Living with sight loss in lockdown

12 May 2020

Dolly is 71 and has retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a sight condition where she can only see dark, light and movement. Living in lockdown would have been a struggle, but thanks to RNIB’s support, Dolly continues to lead an active and fulfilled life, doing the things she loves.

Ordinarily, Dolly keeps herself busy doing Bollywood dancing, Zumba and aerobics classes. But with social distancing in place she now relies on technology and other resources provided by RNIB to keep active and engaged, whilst staying safe indoors.

“I felt frustrated when I suddenly couldn’t attend my regular exercise classes, something I really enjoy that keeps me healthy and in shape,” says Dolly. “But I called RNIB’s Helpline and they found some fitness sessions for me to follow at home.”

As a keen reader, Dolly relies on RNIB’s Talking Books service to keep up her reading habit. “I have been managing to stay safe and isolated using RNIB’s Talk and Support and their wonderful free Talking Books Library,” says Dolly. “But as I can’t independently access the website, the RNIB team gave me a number to call and give them my book choice over the phone.”

“If anyone was to ask me for advice regarding their sight loss, I would say contact RNIB for information – they have been wonderful. And get in touch with other blind people, join the blind community – because it has been so useful, oh my goodness yes.”

Keeping well informed and connected

Helpline advisors at RNIB are on hand during lockdown to support people like Dolly by directing them towards the support and services they need.

Kim Pearson, Sight Loss Advisor at RNIB says, “We’ve had an increase in calls from blind and partially sighted individuals who are struggling with aspects of the lockdown. Some people are finding it difficult to access essential supplies such as food or medicine, either due to the social distancing regulations, or because they are having to self-isolate.

“We’ve been connecting them with different support services in their local community who can help and have extended our Helpline hours so that there is always someone they can speak to.”

Dolly relies on RNIB to keep her up to date with the latest information and its Helpline is her first port of call during the lockdown.

“Accessible information is vital,” says Dolly. “I always ring the Helpline and they put me through to the best person to help me. RNIB have improved my living experience no end – sending me fact sheets, contact numbers and I’m also able to talk to someone from the Technology for Life team on any subject about accessible technology.”

 

Staying safe using the latest technology through RNIB

Cooking can be challenging for people with sight loss.

Dolly was diagnosed with RP at just 35 years old and in her mid-fifties she lost her central vision. With help from RNIB she was able to relearn a lot of things and adapt.

RNIB supplies Dolly and others in her situation with the most technologically advanced kitchen equipment, such as talking scales, so they can be sure to stay healthy when cooking. Being a coeliac, the scales are crucial as they help Dolly to be precise when cooking food. Appliances that also make her life easy are a liquid level indicator, a table-top pressure cooker with a dial and a talking plate induction hob.

Supporting everyone affected by sight loss

RNIB offers help and support for anyone living with sight loss. This can be anything from practical and emotional support, campaigning for change, reading services and the products they offer. The charity wants to break down the barriers for people with sight loss so that they can realise their aspirations.

RNIB has just launched an urgent coronavirus appeal to support over two million blind and partially sighted people through the coronavirus crisis. Many are telling us that they face being cut off by lockdown, as people with sight loss are not included on the Government’s  list of those most vulnerable.

If you’d like to find out how you can help to provide vital support through this difficult time, please visit RNIB’s website or contact fundraising@rnib.org.uk. Alternatively, you can call RNIB’s Helpline on 0303 123 9999 and select option 4.