Daniel Williams has suffered from retinitis pigmentosa since his early childhood. Despite this health challenge, Williams used his entrepreneurial skills to create a CET-accredited course for opticians. This course is dedicated to teaching eye doctors how to help patients better cope with blinding diseases.
Called Seeing Beyond the Eyes, this course only takes around three hours to complete. The key point Williams wants students to take away from this course is how to guide patients to helpful social services in their local communities.
Williams said that a major complaint patients have about opticians today is that they lack bedside manners. Although most opticians are experts at the anatomy of the eye, they know almost nothing about the social services that can make a positive impact on blind patients' lives.
The three main modules in this course go over both the physiology and psychology of sight loss. There are nine essential CET points students need to master to complete the course.
Many of these courses draw on Williams's own experiences with the medical care system after he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. Even though he was only eight at the time, Williams remembers his optician talking with his mother about the condition. Concerning this experience, Williams told reporters, "Although I was eight years old I still had the ability to understand what they were saying if it was maybe broken down in a way that was easier to take in."
This whole course gives opticians the knowledge they need to empower patients rather than aggravate their anxieties. Instead of saying there's nothing to be done, opticians will learn how to help blind patients take proactive steps towards living a fulfilling life.
A few of the major tips in the Seeing Beyond the Eyes program include explaining complex diagnoses in layman's terms, always directing your answer straight to the patient, and explaining helpful services in the community. To help people who have low visibility issues get around the clinic, Williams recommends assisting that patient into the waiting room, never leaving the patient unattended, and turning down the lights for people with light sensitivity.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a relatively rare disease that's most often seen in children. This disease causes a gradual disintegration of the retina and can lead to blindness over time.
The first symptoms of retinitis pigmentosa include tunnel vision, difficulty seeing in dark areas, and frequent headaches. There are no treatments for this disease as of today. Eye doctors recommend that all retinitis pigmentosa patients wear sunglasses.
Recent estimates show that 1 in 4,000 people have retinitis pigmentosa. There's no higher or lower prevalence of the disease based on sex or ethnicity.
Besides developing this course, Williams works as a Work-Place Needs Assessor for people with sight loss as well as a Sight Loss Rehabilitation Assistant. He is also a qualified Eye Clinic Liaison Officer and has worked as a consultant to the Royal National Institute of the Blind.
Williams encourages every optician and dispensing optician to check out this course online. Anyone can access Williams's course by visiting the website.