Eye clinic liaison officer (ECLO)
IRIS provides an ECLO (also called a Sight Loss Adviser) at the Friday Macular Clinic at Leighton Hospital in Crewe, and the hospital itself provides an ECLO service at other outpatient clinics. The role of the ECLO is to provide general advice, information and support to those with sight loss, and to provide a bridge with other support services which could help them, such as counselling services, low vision clinics and rehabilitation officers.
IRIS works closely with other organisations in Cheshire, and with the RNIB, Macclesfield Eye Society and Vision Support helped establish the Cheshire Visual Impairment Consortium (CVIC). This organisation has attracted funding from the Big Lottery and is currently running a project in Cheshire to provide benefits advice and living with sight loss courses for local visually impaired people. Details, including appointments for benefits advice, can be obtained from IRIS.
The Wireless for the Blind Fund, is a national charity which makes available specially designed radios and audio equipment free to anyone who is registered blind or partially sighted, over the age of eight, living in the UK and in current receipt of a means-tested benefit. IRIS is the local agent for the WFTBF and further details and assistance with applications can be obtained from the IRIS office.
New technology offers a host of advantages to visually impaired people and IRIS is keen to promote the use of computers, tablets and smart phones to those living with sight loss. It is currently hosting sessions at the IRIS Centre for those wanting to learn more – for dates and to make an appointment to see a user-friendly advisor, contact the IRIS office.
IRIS provides advice and information on issues of sight loss and local support services, and deals regularly with over 3000 contacts a year. However, it is also mindful of the helpline facilities provided by its partner national charities, including
- The Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) on 0303 123 9999 which can offer advice and information on pretty much everything to do with sight loss, from information about eye conditions and treatments available, to emotional and counselling support.
- The Macular Society – which focuses on the various macular diseases of which age-related macular degeneration is the most prolific – has a helpline on 0300 3030 111 which offers a range of support to those with a macular condition, and can put people in touch with local Macular Society branches which can provide more local support.
- The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) provides a helpline, leaflets, patient support groups and buddying schemes for glaucoma sufferers, and can be contacted on 01233 648170.