A Prestonpans resident with sight loss has spoken out about the importance of information and support for people with visual impairment after receiving support through Sight Scotland's Support Line.
Agnes Stevenson, 78, has age-related macular degeneration. When Agnes received her sight loss diagnosis three years ago, she was a full-time carer for her husband, Tom, who had dementia and sadly passed away last year.
Struggling with the impact of her sight loss, Agnes reached out to Sight Scotland through its new telephone support line.
The Sight Scotland Support Line, which was launched in Edinburgh and the Lothians in January 2021 as part of its newly formed Family Wellbeing Service, and launched nationally on 22 September 2021, offers someone for people with sight loss and their families to turn to for information, advice and support.
Agnes said: “I didn’t know anything about macular degeneration. When I was told I had it, I was devastated. At that time, I got no information at all.
“It was a huge shock. If I had had support at an earlier point following my diagnosis, I don’t think I would have gone into such a depression. When you hear that your sight is going, you think, ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to manage?’ You can’t sleep for thinking about how you’re going to cope.
“I had given up completely. It made me quite depressed, thinking that nothing else could help with my sight. When I contacted Sight Scotland, I’d just thought, ‘I have to do something. I cannot accept this.’
“This is the first time I feel I have some support now [with Sight Scotland]. There was somebody there who would listen to me. It’s been a blessing.”
Sight Scotland’s Family Wellbeing Service team has introduced Agnes to some other magnification options and provided emotional support too as she adapts to life with sight loss – including helping her to regain her much-loved sewing hobby.
In addition to the telephone service, Sight Scotland’s Family Wellbeing Service also provides the option of face-to-face home visits for people based in East Lothian.
Agnes said: “One of the Sight Scotland community workers, Debbie McGregor, has introduced me to different options and given me so much confidence. She’s been helping me with magnifiers and explaining how that can help. I see a future for myself and that is thanks to Sight Scotland.
“There must be hundreds of people like me. The Sight Scotland Support Line can be a huge help for people impacted by sight loss. You can just phone up and say, ‘I’m having a bad day today’. The service is a must for people like me, especially in this aging population.”
“There is somebody there for you. You don’t need to be alone.”