Specsavers Morningside hosted a unique event in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh to help those affected by visual and hearing loss to be more aware of the services, facilities and devices available to help them in their day-to-day lives.

RISE up to the Challenge

Store director and Paediatric Optometrist in the Eye Pavilion, Michael O’Kane, hosted the ‘RISE up to the Challenge’ (Resources, Information, Support and Expertise) event at the Eric Liddle Centre along with the International Glaucoma Association (IGA), The Macular Society and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) in order to raise awareness for the people of Edinburgh and the surroundings areas.

OrCam and the inventor of Serious Readers Lamps were also in attendance to demonstrate the benefit of medical grade lighting to help those with visual loss when reading.

The OrCam device is the latest in assistive wearable technology, a small USB-drive-like device that clips on to the side of the wearer’s glasses and responds to actions such as pointing or hand gestures, reading aloud anything that you point at and can be paired with hearing aids. It even recognises faces and currency.

Michael O’Kane, UK Optometrist of the Year 2018, is encouraging the public to get regular comprehensive eye exams, as early detection is key to receiving adequate treatment to protect your vision.

Special tests, such as an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scan of the retina, can detect diseases much earlier than an optometrist can by just visually inspecting the eyes.

In the past, hand magnifiers, spectacle-mounted telescopes and Braille were the only things available to people struggling with sight loss, but now iPads can give you magnification and field of view and Amazon’s Alexa is able to assist using only your voice.

People can also get lighting, heating and electrical sockets that can turn on or off at the request of your voice.

A word from the store director

Michael said: ‘I called this event RISE up to the Challenge as I wanted to bring all attendees the resources, information and support that the leading experts in the field of low vision, hearing impairments, emotional, practical and financial can offer.

‘I want local people to be aware of these services and devices, so that should they, or a loved one, need them at some point in their journey, they will be equipped with the correct knowledge.’

Nancie Swann, 94, who founded the Morningside Macular Society’s Support Group, also visited the event to support her colleague Gillian Ferguson and commended the event stating it was wonderful to see such commitment to the community.


Jo Fullerton from RNIB, said: ‘You don’t have to be registered partially sighted or disabled to access our services. Everyone can access our helpline 0303 123 9999 and the online sightline directory to find out what resources are available in your area.

‘An Eye Liaison Officer can be found in the Edinburgh Eye Pavilion and can be contacted by anyone who needs support, including people with dyslexia.’

Phonak Hearing Aids were also on-hand at the event to help local residents with any questions on their new technology.

This year, the Morningside store won Technology Practice of the Year at the UK Optician Awards, while store director Michael O’Kane won the highly coveted Optometrist of the Year title, beating stiff competition from optical practices across the country.

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