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“Clinics are safe - don’t risk your sight during lockdown.”

We know that people across Wales will be feeling anxious about visiting any healthcare setting.

But people should not have to risk losing their sight unnecessarily during the coronavirus crisis. Accidents still happen and acute conditions should be treated as an emergency.

Dr Inderpal Singh, 46, is a consultant physician working in Ystrad Mynach. On Tuesday May 19th he experienced a rapid deterioration in his sight while at work.

“I suddenly had a very gritty feeling in my eyes, followed by pain, redness and blurred vision that got worse over the next four hours,” said Inderpal.

“By the time I got home I could not see clearly and nothing had improved, which is when I got really worried. I contacted a friend who is an ophthalmologist, who told me to go to the emergency eye clinic immediately.”

Inderpal went straight to the University Hospital Wales eye clinic that night, where he was diagnosed with acute uveitis.

“My vision loss progressed rapidly and was severe – I could barely see anything in my right eye,” he continued. “I was seen straight away and given an intense regime of hourly steroid eye drops and told to call back if there were any problems. I had to go back the next day to increase the dosage and was seen two days after that and again this week. After 10 days my vision is now much better, and hopefully I should recover fully.”

But Inderpal was told that if he had waited to go to the clinic, he might not have been so lucky.

“If we had left it even a day longer, my eyes would have been irreversibly harmed and I could have lost my vision permanently,” he said. “We should never ignore pain or changes in our eyes.”

Eye clinics across Wales have reported lower than normal attendance rates since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with many patients stating that they are too worried about infection to go to hospital. Inderpal said that he felt the same concerns, but that staff put him at ease as soon as he walked into the hospital.

“The standard of care was amazing. The staff explained that they were taking all precautions for COVID-19 screening, including checking my temperature, maintaining social distancing and making sure I wore a mask. I understand why people are scared about attending clinic, but it’s important to stay relaxed and go if there is an emergency. Our vision is so important. Don’t risk losing it.”

Eye clinics and optometric practices across Wales remain open for acute and essential eye appointments. If you are experiencing problems with your vision or pain in your eyes, call your local optometrist or clinic for a telephone assessment immediately.

In many cases, rapid action can save your sight.

A full list of open practices are available on the eye care Wales website

If you have concerns about your eye condition or eye care at this time, please contact the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or [email protected].

Inderpal would like to thank all staff members of the Suite 8 Eye Clinic, UHW, including on-call doctor Dr Shushrutta Dissanayake, consultant Mr Sanjiv Banerjee and the radiographer on duty for the urgent eye care they provided.