Edinburgh OAP who blamed his glasses for poor vision 'shocked' at sight loss

An Edinburgh OAP who suffers from sight loss has joined his daughter to praise a leading charity’s new community service.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 4:55 am

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Charlie Burns, 83, was “shocked” to learn he has aged-related macular degeneration following an eye examination at his optician last year.

With a long wait for an eye hospital appointment, Charlie’s daughter, Gail Burns, made huge efforts to find out further information about sight loss.

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Gail is helping dad Charlie cope with sight loss

She contacted Sight Scotland earlier this year through its new telephone support line, and both she and Charlie have been receiving support from the charity’s community team.

The Sight Scotland Support Line, which was launched in Edinburgh and the Lothians in January this year as part of its newly formed Family Wellbeing Service, has been launched nationally today

Charlie said: “When I was told the news about my eyesight it was a right shock. At first, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it had just been my glasses. I’d never heard anything about macular degeneration before. It all happened very quickly. I can see the outline of people but I can’t see their faces, that’s the problem now.

“My sight loss has been a blow to me. Life’s changed enormously. I was quite an active man, and then all of a sudden you have to watch what you’re doing. It’s just annoying. I’ve got to come to terms with it.

There to help: staff from Sight Scotland's Family Wellbeing Service

“No one has ever said to me what to do next after my diagnosis or that I might be able to get support. Sight Scotland’s support has been brilliant.”

To coincide with the new national service, Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans published findings from their latest research involving over 200 visually impaired people. More than 55 per cent of participants said they hadn’t had enough information about where they could find support after their diagnosis; while over 80 per cent said it was important to provide more support to family members and carers.

Almost 90 per cent said it was important they and their families received support to deal with the emotional impact of sight loss.

Charlie’s daughter, Gail Burns said: “When Dad was told he had macular degeneration it was quite a shock – I had never heard of it. I was really confused and it was quite scary. It was that realisation that something was seriously wrong.

“I don’t think Dad initially realised the severity of his condition. It would have made a huge difference to have had support at an earlier stage after Dad’s diagnosis.

“I got in touch with Sight Scotland for my Dad and for me because I found it really difficult, and I still do sometimes. I think the main thing was the fact that he wouldn’t be able to see his family’s faces again properly. He’s been through so much. He’s found ways to adapt his approach with everyday tasks and I’m so impressed with his resilience.”

Chief Executive of Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans, Mark O’Donnell, said: “This new service is there for anyone impacted by visual impairment so that no-one in Scotland has to struggle with sight loss alone.”

For information call the Sight Scotland Support Line on 0800 024 8973, Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm or visit SightScotland.org.uk

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