When Chris Doyle began to experience sight loss due to his diabetes, RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service was there to provide support and information that helped him find an accessible home where he feels happier, safer and more connected.
Chris was working as a lorry driver when he first noticed problems with his sight. “I was finding it increasingly difficult to read my delivery notes. Soon after, I realised that I couldn’t read the number plates,” said Chris.
Chris visited an optician and discovered that his eyesight was deteriorating due to his diabetes. He was referred for tests and operations, but little could be done to prevent him losing his sight.
It was a difficult time for Chris.
“I desperately wanted to believe that it wasn’t happening. I couldn’t afford to just stop working. I didn’t want to lose my livelihood. But my diabetes was getting worse and worse.” Despite the hospital staff being supportive Chris still felt “overwhelmed, frightened and worried about the future.”
During an appointment at the hospital Chris met Suzanne, a Sight Loss Adviser from RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service. Through Suzanne, Chris learned about the services available for people experiencing sight loss.
“It was a chance meeting, but a meeting which turned my life around,” recalled Chris. “Suzanne has been integral to helping me regain some independence. When Suzanne herself couldn’t help with something in particular, she was amazing at signposting my wife and me to the charities and agencies which could. When she made referrals, she was relentless on our behalf.”
RNIB put Chris in touch with the right services to give him the support he needed, including one that helped him to get to grips with assistive technology. This was incredibly important for Chris as technology helps him feel less isolated.
“Using technology puts me in touch with the outside world. I struggle to leave the house due to my mobility and my sight, so using my tablet and my phone lets me feel connected. Technology has been so important for cutting through the isolation.”
When Chris was first diagnosed with sight loss he and his wife lived in a three-bedroom house, but as his condition progressed it became inaccessible. They were hoping to be able to move to a more suitable home but a change to the council’s housing policy meant they no longer qualified for council housing transfer. Chris spoke to another RNIB Sight Loss Adviser on the phone, who explained Chris’s rights and how to appeal. The adviser also put Chris in touch with Shelter’s legal team who, alongside RNIB, managed to get the council to accept Chris back onto the housing list.
Now Chris and his wife have moved into accessible, sheltered accommodation and are much happier. “In our old house, I was isolated and felt helpless as I couldn’t move around it safely. But being here, in a more accessible flat, in an area that is closer to our friends and family, my wife and I have found a new happiness together that I thought we had lost forever.”
“Knowing that RNIB is there for us makes such a big difference to our life. My wife and I know that we can reach out to them and speak to someone who is knowledgeable, helpful and on our side. RNIB empowers you and makes you feel confident and independent, but all the while supported. They don’t take over and do things for you. They give you knowledge, advice and options."
“My advice to anyone struggling with a visual impairment: get straight in contact with RNIB. They have been an invaluable support which I’d recommend to anyone.”