Des' story: Positive about the future

Des Radcliff, aged 69, lives in Mid Glamorgan, Wales. He had his own business until a cancer diagnosis and subsequent radiotherapy treatment damaged his retinas and caused him to lose most of his sight.

“My wife and I had built up a business together. Unfortunately, I had to give it up after my sight loss.

I was diagnosed with cancer in the head and neck and had to have very strong radiotherapy treatment. Unfortunately, it didn't just kill the cancer cells, it also damaged my retinas, and the nerves in my ears. I've still got some peripheral vision, but my central vision has mostly gone. I am also partially deaf because of it.”

Living with Sight Loss

“One day, I went to Cardiff Institute for the Blind (CIB) to look for a magnifier. Soon, I was getting advice about eye doctors, being taught how to use the computer, and was officially registered ‘blind’. I hadn’t bothered registering my eyesight before. I never dreamt I needed to until I visited the CIB. When your sight drops below a certain level you're registered blind even if you have some vision.

I was assigned to my first Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) at CIB. My ECLO, Jacqui, was brilliant. I was particularly impressed with how she maintained contact with each patient to ensure that the service was fully delivered. Jacqui knew Cardiff extremely well, and which part of Cardiff patients were from, she knew the right person to contact to speed things up. Then she would stay in touch. It wasn't just about reassuring patients, it was the follow up too. People would become quite emotional, shake her hand, and say ‘Thank you’, because she was sorting out their problems.

The sight loss adviser service (or ECLO) is a tremendous service. It would be brilliant, if every eye clinic in the country had this service.”

Deciding to volunteer

“I believe that Cardiff is one of the best places to be if you have sight loss, because RNIB and the Cardiff Institute for the Blind are right on your doorstep. These charities are of great help to many, many people.

I was very impressed by the ECLO services, and that was why I decided to be a volunteer. I love being a volunteer, the job really excites me, and I found it very touching when I visited RNIB’s headquarters, and I met people who are likeminded and who were going through the same thing as me.

I now get a check-up once a year, and I am an official photographer for a martial arts group. I really enjoy life and I’m very positive about the future.”