Low-vision optician Russell Ham with his five star award presented by Rhun ap Iorwerth AM - Newport Specavers

Awarded for work with low-vision patients

A Newport optician has been awarded for his work with low-vision patients.

Russell Ham (pictured, above left), who specialises in care for visually impaired patients, was the only optician in Wales to receive a ‘five-star award’ from the Wales Council for the Blind.

The organisation represents people with vision impairment in Wales, working to campaign for people with sight and sensory loss, as well as providing an official platform for them to raise concerns and wishes.

Mr Ham was given the prestigious award by Welsh Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth at an event held at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay. He was nominated by his patients, who praised the high level of care he has shown them during 13 years working for Specsavers.

‘I feel honoured and somewhat humbled that my patients took the time to put me forward for such an award,’ said Mr Ham, whose is registered as an accredited low vision optician with the NHS Low Vision Service Wales scheme.

Individuals with low vision have sight which cannot be corrected by wearing glasses or contact lenses

It is sometimes caused by conditions such as age-related macular degeneration. Mr Ham beat the other 187 specially-trained practitioners offering low vision services in high street opticians across Wales.

Russell currently has 468 low-vision patients who travel from as far as west Wales to access the store’s services.

‘I hope the award demonstrates the high quality of care and support we are able to provide to low-vision patients here in Newport,’ he added. ‘I get great satisfaction from enabling people to enjoy a better quality of life and independence and to be recognised for that work is wonderful.’

The store is no stranger to accolades, having recently scooped the ‘Special Award in Clinical Excellence’ at Specsavers’ national award ceremony. It was recognised for its collaboration with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and the Welsh Government to open an Ophthalmic Diagnostic Treatment Centre (ODTC).

The ODTC, which opened in September 2016 in Specsavers premises, sees Specsavers optometrists provide initial screening and referrals for people with symptoms of wet age-related macular degeneration. This allows NHS staff to deliver treatment for the condition from the same high street location.

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