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Memories of Corinna Swift

"At three years old St Paul's came into my life. My consultant then, Mr Burns, always knew me when my parents brought me in. I struggled with my vision loss when I was younger. I have no vision in my right eye and no peripheral vision in my left and so was a regular visitor to St Paul's Eye Hospital and Unit. I am now registered as Severely Sight Impaired, or 'blind' as they used to call it.

"I had an accident when I was 15 - my retina detached in my left eye - which needed immediate surgery. Mr Burns operated and thankfully saved some of my sight. I'll always remember afterwards a young junior doctor sitting with me on my bed. I was distraught, had bandages over my eye and crying. He sat on my bed, held my hand, offered reassurance, comforted me and said, 'Don't cry!'. This junior doctor went on to become my consultant for many years before leaving to work abroad.

"In July 2014 I had the opportunity to come and work at St Paul's Eye Unit, a place very close to my heart for obvious reasons and a job I am very passionate about.

"On my first day in my new role I was introduced to Professor David Wong and we recognised each other instantly; it was the junior doctor who had sat on my bed and comforted me when I was younger.

"When Prof Wong retired I was very upset and I didn't do a good job trying not to cry. He had done so much for me over the years and I will be eternally grateful for everything he has done to keep what little sight I have in my left eye.  At the end of his last clinic staff gave him a round of applause and cheered him.  We hugged as he left and, once again, he said, 'Don't cry!'; well, that was it, the flood gates opened. 

"Since I've been the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) here at St. Paul's, I've made sure that every patient who is certificated as Sight Impaired (partially sighted) or Severely Sight Impaired (blind) would see me face to face or over the phone.  I don't want anyone to slip through the net, I want everyone to get the support they need and deserve.  

"During the course of my work, I've also been instrumental in changing food menus into accessible format for blind and partially sighted patients across the Trust and introduced sight loss packs onto the wards in an effort to make the patient experience here a pleasurable one.  I am looking forward to introducing these packs to our colleagues in Aintree. 

"When a patient comes into clinic distraught, or family members don't know what to do, I tell them that things will get better.  I know that because I can speak from experience as I am still on my own 'eye journey'.

"I often tell them that “sight loss is a hidden disability which is not life threatening but is certainly life changing! There are many things that we can still do....but we must find a way to do them differently!”

"St Paul’s have done something for me that words can never explain."


Corinna has won awards for her work including Professional of the Year at the RNIB Vision Pioneer Awards and the Best Patient Support or Education Initiative at the Bayer Ophthalmology Awards.