Low vision services: the Welsh way

30 April 2021
Spring 2021

The Low Vision Service Wales has proved a lifeline for patients since it was set up 18 years ago. Helen Gilbert explores the secrets behind its success and the lessons other countries can learn.

When Professor Barbara Ryan MCOptom moved to Wales in 2003 to help develop a nationwide community-based low vision service, she had no idea it would turn into a revolutionary model. 

At the time, hospital eye clinics across the country were experiencing increased waiting times for patients with reduced vision, and Barbara was drafted in as the Clinical Lead and Low Vision Training and Accreditation Manager at Cardiff University to help shape qualifications and establish the service for what was then the Welsh Eye Care Initiative. 

Within a year, more than 100 optometrists and dispensing opticians had been trained, and by 2015 the scheme – renamed Low Vision Service Wales (LVSW) – had proved so popular and effective that it had entirely replaced all secondary care-based low vision services in Wales.

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