Recently, medical professionals from Southampton University came to visit Southampton Sight as part of their continuous professional development. They attended training focused on what it is like to live with sight loss. Along with four other people with varying levels of sight loss, I was asked to speak about what it was like when I recently attended my ophthalmology appointment on my own for the first time. I didn’t have the best experience if I’m being completely honest, I found the lack of knowledge on how to safely guide someone with sight loss was obvious and feel that this is something that could be improved upon and make visiting the hospital a lot less daunting.
I should point out that I am registered blind and have been since I was a baby, I have had many years to adapt and I know no different. Other people who spoke about their experience have acquired sight loss due to one reason or another. When I think about how the doctors would have told them about their life changing sight loss I have not had the pain of being told I will not see as well as I did before. However, I have and I can still grieve for something that I have never experienced. Even though I have not been able to drive a vehicle, I still wish I could have the luxury of getting into a car and driving where ever I need or want to go.
I do hope that the student doctors found the training useful and that they will carry these experiences that we all shared with them forward to whatever they go on to specialise in. One thing that I would like them to have taken away from the afternoon is that whoever we are, we are still humans and need understanding, time and empathy, and when you must break unwelcome news to someone think of how you might react yourself.