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“Eccentric viewing can help practically, whilst promoting confidence and self esteem”

Helena Melbourne is the Senior Rehabilitation Officer for Cambridgeshire County Council's Sensory Services Team with more than 20 years experience in the field.

She has worked in the UK for three years, previously being employed in Ireland with a number of placements in India, Romania and Africa.

Helena has been using eccentric viewing professionally for a number of years and is a keen advocate of the potential of the technique. So much so, that she is in the process of putting together a training course to enable members of her team to teach the skills.

She said: “I’m totally committed to people with disabilities and in bettering the situation in which they find themselves from the personal, the social and the political perspective.

“I’ve used eccentric viewing and steady eye technique for many years and find it a useful tool in helping people to maintain and improve their reading potential. In some cases these skills can also be transferred to the broader remit of their lives. For many years I operated a Low Vision Clinic working closely with an Optometrist and a Technologist, it was a general part of my role to ensure that people used their aids and their skills to best effect.

“In my present team the use of eccentric viewing and steady eye technique has not been used before. I contacted the Macular Society to see if they had an already available training package which I could deliver to my staff team. I have been forwarded a DVD which is useful and I am currently designing a short training programme for the team.

"Certainly in the case of macular degeneration and in some cases of RP the technique can be very useful and I have used it in my work with clients to good effect for many years. It is especially useful when training has been implemented from the early onset of vision loss and then the skill updated regularly. I feel that the treatment of low vision is an ongoing process.

“I have seen many instances where the treatment of vision loss has been seen as a single trip to the Low Vision Clinic with no ongoing follow-up or training and this is rather disheartening. There has to be ongoing treatment or training for an ongoing need.

“Eccentric Viewing is not a "fix-all" and certainly not "a cure" by any simple definition but it can be used to help people practically, whilst promoting confidence and self esteem. It can also be used as a way of putting some responsibility back on the client, giving them some control over their prognosis and their lives. Eccentric viewing and steady eye technique is just one strand in a whole plethora of approaches to Low Vision.”

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