Ms. Gwen Gray – Community Services - Service user
Gwen Gray realised there was something wrong with her eyes when she struggled to see the numbers displayed on her bingo card during regular visits with her friend.
Her local opticians had recently referred her to see her doctor following a routine eye examination, but Gwen did not think she had any problems with her eyesight at the time.
Gwen, an 85-year-old great grandmother, from Harborne, has since been diagnosed with the eye disease macular degeneration, together with glaucoma, and cataracts, which together has been causing her eyesight to deteriorate over the last few years.
But she has been receiving welcome support from Focus Birmingham, which has been providing her with valuable aids to help in her own home, as well as a social meeting place and regular eye tests.
Gwen, who has a song and two daughters, five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren, says: “I started developing eyesight problems about five years ago. I could see alright as far as I knew, and didn’t think there was anything wrong with my eyes.
“But it was when I went to the opticians for a routine eye test and the optician said there was a problem and referred me to my doctor.
“It was only after I was told I had macular degeneration and also glaucoma that I noticed I couldn’t see properly. I used to play bingo with my friend but I couldn’t see the numbers along the lines.
“It’s been gradually getting worse over the last five years, although I am booked in to have the cataract done in my left eye, which is the worst one, and they are also putting a stent in because of the glaucoma.”
Gwen has been benefitting from the services at Focus Birmingham after being referred to the charity in the summer of 2016.
“I went to the Low Vision Centre for an eye test, and I’ve been going there ever since. It’s much nearer for me to get there as I live in Harborne,” she added.
“Focus have also helped me in other ways too. They have given me coloured buttons for my cooker and microwave so I can see what to press, and they’ve also given me a magnifying mirror to help me with my reading. I’ve always loved reading books, although my daughter has also organised some talking books for me.
“On top of that, I go to the coffee mornings every week and also attend the macular group which meets monthly so I can speak to people in the same position as me. And I’ll shortly be going on holiday with Focus to Llandudno.
“I can see a bit but I don’t know what I’d do without the help from Focus.”