Fighting Blindness Launches New Eye Condition Guide for People Diagnosed with Sight Loss

Fighting Blindness, is set to unveil a new patient guide to support people diagnosed with a range of retinal conditions. The publication, A Guide to Conditions of the Retina, supported by Bayer Healthcare, will be launched later today by Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, at a reception attended by ophthalmologists, scientists and patients in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin. It aims to cut through the science and medical jargon often associated with our eyes generally, and our eye health in particular, to set out information in a way that is easy to understand and simple to navigate. More than 224,000 people in Ireland are affected by conditions causing sight loss, with these numbers expected to rise to 275,000 by 2020.

The Guide sets out information on a range of retinal conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetes-related sight loss, retinitis pigmentosa and other rare inherited conditions, including their causes, symptoms, treatments and research. It details how the eyes work and defines the technical terms used for parts of the eye, as well as highlighting the roles of the various eye health professionals that people come into contact with.

Eye tests that patients may undertake, and the purpose of each of these in examining vision and different parts of the eyes are explained, from looking at letters on a chart, to measuring colour perception, to looking at the range of vision. The Guide also sets out questions for patients, who can sometimes feel overwhelmed, to ask at their eye examination so that they are as fully informed as possible, as well as pointing to Irish and international patient, medical and research organisations for additional information and support.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, comments: “This fantastic resource will be of huge value to people and families affected by sight loss, particularly after an initial diagnosis when they are learning about a new condition and trying to make sense of what it means for them. Having access to reliable and understandable information is empowering at such a confusing and overwhelming time, especially for people diagnosed with rare conditions. I am delighted to be supporting Fighting Blindness once again in their work to ensure patients have access to all relevant information relating to their condition.”

Mr David Keegan, Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin, who was instrumental in the development of the Guide, says: “Every day in my practice, I see the huge impact that sight loss has on people. Not only does it affect the individual concerned, but it can have a huge ripple effect across families. These challenges are not only practical in terms of how we go about living our day-to-day lives but they are also psychological as we mentally adjust from a sighted to a partially or even non-sighted world. Access to authoritative and credible information on eye conditions, particularly those that are rare, can be difficult and so this Guide will be a great resource to patients and medical professionals alike.”

Avril Daly, Chief Executive, Fighting Blindness, believes access to information for those newly-diagnosed is vital in helping people to come to terms with a new reality. “When a person is diagnosed with a condition causing sight loss, it throws up lots of challenging and difficult questions. It’s so important that people have access to information that is easy to digest, and detail on the options available to them, so that they can begin to work through what it means for them and how they will live their lives. That is why we have developed this comprehensive resource on a range of eye conditions that we believe will not only be of great support to people affected by retinal conditions, but also to their families and friends.

“The Guide also explains a range of research activities being undertaken by Fighting Blindness and reasons for people to be positive about the future. Since our foundation in 1983, we have invested over €15 million in more than 70 research projects and, in 1989, researchers in Trinity College Dublin, funded by Fighting Blindness, were the first in the world to identify a gene implicated in the development of retinitis pigmentosa. Over the past few years, we have broadened our focus from funding genetic research to looking at new and emerging technologies, such as cell therapy and regenerative medicine, by replacing photoreceptors that have been lost due to degeneration, and retinal implant technology, where microelectronics and microchip electrodes are surgically implanted into the back of the eye. We remain committed to leaving no stone unturned in our quest to advance the treatment and cure of a range of eye conditions.”

Katy Carroll, Business Unit Manager, Bayer Healthcare, adds: “As a leading healthcare company in the area of ophthalmology, we are delighted to support this excellent new guide. There is so much material available to patients these days that sometimes it can be a minefield to try and source clear and simple information on a condition. A Guide to Conditions of the Retina is really an A-Z compendium on the full range of retinal conditions. It is a very useful guide for anyone with a sight condition or if you are family member of someone with sight loss.”

Copies of the Guide will be distributed to eye care professionals nationwide. It can also be downloaded below or, alternatively, printed copies can be requested by contacting 01 678 9004 or communications@fightingblindness.ie,

Click here to download a PDF version of ‘A Guide To Conditions Of The Retina’(This may take a moment due to the size of the document. If you have difficulty downloading the document please contact Caitríona at communications@fightingblindness.ie to request a copy via email.)

Click here to download a Microsoft Word version of ‘A Guide To Conditions of The Retina’.