A new clinical training programme that will further help retail staff at Specsavers Newport support residents with low vision and sight conditions has been successfully trialled in-store.

RNIB Ambassador course

Devised by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and optometrists at Specsavers, the online training course helps retail staff better explain the clinical services available in-store to customers with more complex conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma, as well as advise them on how they can manage their symptoms.

These services include an in-depth scan of the back of a person’s eye using an optical coherence tomography (OCT) machine, which helps optometrists identify early signs of sight conditions. This means that, in some circumstances, eye conditions can be monitored and treated in-store rather than at hospital.

Staff who successfully complete the training become ‘RNIB Ambassadors’ and can be identified by a special badge on their uniform. The Newport trial’s success means the course will now be rolled out to all Specsavers stores in Wales.

Accessible and engaging training

Store director, Craig Mackenzie, says: ‘Our retail team is at the front-line of care for our customers, so it’s vital they can confidently discuss the clinical services we provide, alongside the regular sight and audiology tests on offer. The training course provides that in an accessible and engaging format.

‘The team has already said they found the training really useful and I have no doubt that when this is rolled out across the region many more will be saying the same thing.’

Specsavers and RNIB started working together in 2016 with the aim of transforming eye health. Part of the partnership includes the annual ‘State of the Nation: eye health report’, which tracks their achievements and gives new information on the incidence of sight loss and attitudes towards eye health in the UK. Last year’s report found 250 people in the UK start to lose their sight every day, and one in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime.

Reduced risk

Mr Mackenzie says: ‘Eye conditions such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts are fairly common and can have a number of implications if left untreated. But this risk can be reduced with early diagnosis, something we can provide through our clinical services.

‘This training means our retail staff can help highlight the importance of regular tests and inform customers of the excellent work our clinical teams have been doing for years.’

Ansley Workman, director of RNIB Cymru, adds: ‘We had a productive afternoon testing the new RNIB and Specsavers Ambassadors training module in the Newport store. We are excited that staff across Wales will have the chance to provide a greater customer experience to customers with low vision, while also being able to refer them to RNIB for more information if needed.’

All Newport store information