World Sight Day is being held on the 14th October this year and aims to bring global attention to vision impairment and blindness and to raise awareness of eye conditions and promote good eye health.

The theme for this year is ‘love your eyes’ and we would like to use today as an opportunity to share Terry’s story of his wife’s recent cornea transplant.

Terry's story

“My wife has experienced eye problems over the last 5-10 years. About 18 months ago, she visited the eye clinic at Royal Derby Hospital for some superficial laser treatment to both her eyes. She felt uncomfortable after these treatments and contacted the hospital to inform them of this discomfort within the eyeball areas.

It was then that she was told that she needed a cornea transplant. The cornea is the clear outer layer at the front of the eye that helps the eye to focus light. She was told that the average wait for a donated cornea was 9-12 months but it could take a lot longer.

It was difficult for my wife during the wait. Her lack of sight caused much upset and feeling of “why me?”

In May 2021, my wife was told that a donor had been found and she was invited to attend the hospital for pre-op briefings with the transplant scheduled for the end of May 2021.

Unfortunately, the first cornea found for my wife was not suitable so her wait continued. Eventually, another donor was found and the transplant operation went ahead on 24th June 2021.

Now, my wife’s eyesight is much improved and she is now able to see without spectacles.”

One in 10 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register have indicated that they do not wish to donate their corneas, making corneas the part of the body that most people say they do not wish to donate. There are lots of myths about donating corneas but even people with poor eyesight can donate their corneas. We encourage you to read up on cornea donation and the benefits they can offer patients. You can find out more here: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/helping-you-to-decide/about-organ-donation/what-can-you-donate/about-cornea-donation/

The importance of eye health

Your eyesight is one of your most important senses, 80% of what we perceive comes through our sense of sight. By protecting your eyes, you will reduce the odds of blindness and vision loss while also staying on top of any developing eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma.

The best way to look after your eye health is to get regular eye checks with an optician. A visit to your optician for an examination is an important health check that may detect initial signs of eye conditions before you’re aware of any symptoms.

An optician can spot many general health problems and early signs of eye conditions before you’re aware of any symptoms, many of which can be treated if found early enough.

Many people are entitled to free eye tests on the NHS. Find out about the importance of eye tests, how to get one and see if you are eligible for a free eye test here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/look-after-your-eyes/ 

© Healthwatch Derbyshire 2021

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