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Protect your eyes – don’t risk losing your sight, says Cardiff doctor

Credit: RNIB Cymru

This National Eye Health Week (21st-27th September) a Cardiff doctor is highlighting the importance of looking after your eyes after he almost lost his sight.

Dr Inderpal Singh

Dr Inderpal Singh, 46, a consultant physician, experienced a sudden deterioration in his sight while at work in May.

“I suddenly had a very gritty feeling in my eyes, followed by pain, redness and blurred vision that got worse over the next four hours,” said Inderpal.

“By the time I got home I hardly see a thing, which is when I got really worried. I contacted a friend, who told me to go to the emergency eye clinic immediately.”

Inderpal went straight to the University Hospital Wales eye clinic that night, where he was diagnosed with acute uveitis. There he was told that if he had waited to go to the clinic, he might not have been so lucky.

“My vision loss was so rapid and severe – I could barely see anything in my right eye,” he continued. “If we had left it even a day longer, my eyes would have been irreversibly harmed and I could have lost my vision permanently. We should never ignore pain or changes in our eyes.”

After 10 days Inderpal’s vision gradually improved, and time it should recover fully. But throughout lockdown, eye clinics across Wales reported lower than normal attendance rates since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many patients stated that they were too worried about infection to go to hospital and more were confused about optometry and clinic availabiltiy. Inderpal said that he felt the same concerns, but that staff put him at ease as soon as he walked into the clinic.

“I understand why people are scared about attending clinic, but it’s important to stay relaxed and go if there is an emergency,” he said. “Our vision is so important. Don’t risk losing it.”

Sali Davies, Chief Executive of Optometry Wales said: “Eye clinics and optometric practices across Wales are now open to see patients. Many are operating a locked-door policy meaning that patients must enter one at a time, but normal services are up and running once again and we are taking every necessary precaution to keep patients safe.

“If you are experiencing any ocular pain or trouble, don’t sit at home and suffer in silence. Our teams are here to help.”

Ansley Workman, Director of RNIB Cymru said: “This National Eye Health Week, we want to remind people how important it is to act fast if you experience any eye issues. Inderpal’s story really does highlight how quickly an eye emergency can develop, and that sight can be recovered if you act in time.

“We know that people across Wales are still feeling anxious about visiting healthcare settings. But people should not have to risk losing their sight unnecessarily as a result of the pandemic.

“If you develop a new concern about your eyes or vision, such as sudden pain, redness, flashing lights or an increase in eye floaters, immediately contact your optometrist or visit the eye emergency clinic at your local hospital. In many cases, rapid action can save your sight.”

If you have concerns about your eye condition or eye care, please contact the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or [email protected].