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Woman, 80, goes blind in one eye after hospital appointments were cancelled during pandemic 

Woman, 80, goes blind in one eye after series of hospital appointments were cancelled during pandemic

  • Janet Harris, 80, lost sight in her right eye after a year of missed appointments 
  • She had seen doctors about pressure in the eye in 2019 but Covid cancelled follow-ups
  • Janet finally got an appointment in 2021 but was told nothing could be done to save her vision in the eye
  • It capped off a wretched year where she had also lost her husband Kenneth, 81 

An 80-year-old woman has said she lost sight in one eye after the pandemic forced the cancellation of her hospital eye appointments.

Janet Harris, 80, had attended three appointments to monitor her eye pressure in 2019 before the pandemic struck at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

Covid forced the cancellations of subsequent appointments in 2020 and by the time that Janet attended the hospital in 2021, she had lost sight in her right eye.

Janet Harris, 80, lost sight in one eye after the pandemic forced the cancellation of her hospital eye appointments

Janet Harris told the BBC : ‘I do blame the health board because they should have carried on with the appointments.

‘It’s awful to think they could have saved my sight.’

Janet said she only got an appointment with a doctor after notifying the eye unit about a significant change in her ability to see. 

‘I put my hand over my left eye and realised I couldn’t see a thing,’ she said.

‘I came out of there crying’.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it worked to ensure patients ‘were receiving the appropriate level of care required for their condition’.

Following tests at the hospital in the week before Christmas, Janet was told that doctors could not save her vision.

She believes that is appointments had continued, she may have had a chance to save her right eyesight. 

‘They would have seen it getting worse and would have been able to do something’, she said.

BBC Wales says it has seen a letter from a consultant ophthalmic surgeon, from February 2022, saying to Janet: ‘I was sorry to see that you have lost the vision in the right eye, but equally pleased that your left eye continues to do well.’

Janet lost her husband Kenneth, 81, in 2021 after 59 years of marriage and described her wretched year as ‘cruel’.

She lives in Grangetown, Cardiff and made light of her affliction when talking to the BBC. 

Janet said: ‘I’ve got four children, 10 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and only one eye. I’ve got to try to joke about it.’

She still suffers from headaches caused by the pressure.

A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: ‘To ensure our teams could continue to deliver safe and effective care to patients during the height of the pandemic and in line with Covid-19 guidance, some scheduled clinics and treatments were running at reduced capacity and in some instances, patient appointments were postponed.

Janet also lost her husband Kenneth, 81, in 2021 after 59 years of marriage and described her wretched year as 'cruel'

Janet also lost her husband Kenneth, 81, in 2021 after 59 years of marriage and described her wretched year as ‘cruel’

‘Measures were put in place by the health board to maintain continuity of care including offering virtual appointments, working closely with our colleagues in primary care to continue essential services and rescheduling appointments for a later date.

‘We worked in collaboration with our patients to ensure they were receiving the appropriate level of care required for their condition, based on need.

‘As a health board, we would urge anyone who identifies a deterioration in their condition to speak to their healthcare provider, even if they are on a waiting list.

‘Your primary care team are available within the community and can provide advice, guidance and support on a range of health conditions, including optometrists who would be your primary choice for any deterioration in eye health.

‘We are sorry to hear that Mrs Harris feels that she has not received the appropriate care and we would advise her to contact our concerns department if she would like to discuss this further.’

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