Thanks to a recent visit from an interactive sight loss simulator, Maesteg residents had a glimpse of what life is like with a sight loss condition.

Raising awareness

Specsavers’ ‘Eye Pod’ rolled into town recently as part of a UK-wide campaign, launched by the opticians and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), to raise public awareness of the four most common and preventable sight-loss conditions: diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.

Maesteg was selected as a key location for the initiative and scores of residents, including deputy mayor, councillor Stuart Baldwin, took the opportunity to trial the simulator and learn more about how the business hopes to improve the eye health of its local people as well as their understanding of the importance of regular eye tests.

The simulator, which was located opposite Iceland in Wilko’s car park for the day, was free to trial. A team from Specsavers and the RNIB were on hand to answer questions and hand out discounted eye examination vouchers.

Simon Morris, store director at the Talbot Street opticians, says: ‘The Eye Pod experience gave people a tiny glimmer of how the world could look if their vision was drastically impaired. But there is a positive message there. Each condition they experienced is entirely preventable if spotted early by their optician.’

Shocking statistics

A joint report by RNIB and Specsavers revealed that one in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime despite at least half of all cases being avoidable. It estimates around 250 people in the UK start living with sight loss every day.

Everyone who completed a survey at the Maesteg event said the sense they’d be most afraid to lose was their sight. Mr Morris hopes the Eye Pod has prompted more people to book two-yearly sight tests for themselves and their families.

Sophie Castell, Director of Relationships at RNIB, says: ‘Our work is now more important than ever: almost 80 per cent of people living with sight loss are over the age of 64, so with an ageing population that is expected to retire later, more of our national workforce will be impacted by sight loss.

‘Alongside rapidly growing demand for eye care services, and capacity problems in some clinics at a time of growing budget deficits, we are facing an extremely challenging time for eye health in the UK, and we must take action now.’

The Eye Pod toured the UK to raise awareness and funds in support of RNIB. Specsavers began a partnership with RNIB in 2016 with the mission of transforming eye health and communicating the vital importance of regular eye examinations, not just for eyesight but also to detect sight and life-threatening conditions.

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