Fife Man Praises Vital ECLO Service
“I didn’t have time to break down.” A Polish man living with sight loss in Fife has praised an RNIB Scotland service which supports patients facing a similar diagnosis.
Eye Care Liaison Officers (ECLOs) are a vital service managed in hospitals by RNIB and other providers, offering support in the form of emotional reassurance and practical advice for people making an adjustment to living with sight loss.
Mateusz Watorowski (32) has spoken of the support he received after first being diagnosed with sight loss.
“I've had diabetes since I was 12 years old. When I was living in Poland, I had laser treatment in both eyes to improve my vision. I moved to Scotland in January 2021."
“When I was talking with my brother in my back garden, I collapsed and was unconscious for some time. I couldn’t stand up and my brother needed to help me. When I started to feel better, I decided to make myself a cup of tea. After getting into the kitchen, I lost consciousness and collapsed again. My brother called an ambulance, and I was taken to hospital."
“I was in a coma for 5-6 weeks. When I came out of the coma, I started rehabilitation. I was informed that I had had a stroke and heart failure which affected the left side of my body. I also noticed that my vision had changed and told the medical staff about it. I had an eye examination in hospital and was informed that my field of vision was affected after the stroke, which is why my sight had drastically deteriorated.”
“When I was diagnosed with sight deterioration, I already had reduced vision. I didn’t have time to break down. I knew I practically couldn’t do anything independently. In all aspects of daily activities, I needed support from my family."
“As there was a language barrier, my brother spoke with the ECLO service initially. He explained my current situation and raised the worries I had with most daily living skills: cooking, cleaning, and mobility. My brother was informed that an ECLO would be in touch with me to discuss my needs in the Polish language.”
Mateusz was put in touch with Aleksandra Grzywacz-Kalaska, an ECLO who speaks Polish.
“When Alex called me, I was grateful to have the option to speak in my own language. I felt more comfortable. I could express myself easily, be more open and better understood. I didn’t have to use an interpreter or my brother to discuss my current situation."
“Alex discussed the registration process and associated benefits/concession with me. She also supported me to chase and receive a disability registration letter. She referred me to RNIB’s Employment Team to support my job retention. She went with me to the Diabetic Clinic to check the progress of my insulin pump/appointment. When I got my registration letter, Alex helped me to apply online for a Travel Pass, Blue Badge and supported me with my financial support application.”
Mateusz wants to encourage others diagnosed with sight loss to access the service
“I would strongly recommend the ECLO service to anyone diagnosed with sight loss. It’s always worth talking to someone who can understand my needs, and to be able to open up and be listened to."
“I’ve started meeting people from a local Polish club. We play dominoes, go for walks, and visit different places. I've also started going to the gym once a week."
“I’m still learning how to manage my daily routine, but day by day it is getting better, and I know I can always contact my ECLO if I need support."
We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality, and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.
RNIB. See differently.
Anyone facing a diagnosis of sight loss or changes to their condition is encouraged to reach out to the ECLO service and RNIB for support.
For further information, please contact Rory Paterson at RNIB Scotland on [email protected].