Kingston Upon Thames Association for the Blind

Latest News

News, events and information that we receive between our biannual newsletter

Refurbishment of The Royal Eye Unit at Kingston Upon Thames

The eye emergency clinic at The Royal Eye Unit to create more space and to improve the experience for out patients.

The clinic will be closed from 24 May 2021 and will reopen in August 2021.

What if I need emergency eye care during this time?

If you have an eye emergency, please phone 020 8934 6799. If you are already under the care of The Royal Eye Unit and your eye emergency is related to the condition you are being treated for, we will book an appointment for you at Kingston Hospital, if necessary. If you are not currently a Royal Eye Unit patient, we will give you advice on where you eye emergency can be death with. This may be another eye hospital or a community service.

I already have an appointment at The Royal Eye Unit. Will my appointment still go ahead?

We would like to reassure patients that routine planned treatments, operations and outpatient eye services will not be affected by the refurbishment and will continue to take place within the Royal Eye Unit during this time.

Thank you for your co-operation and apologies for any inconvenience.

The Kingston Mayor's Covid 19 Award

Article by Ellie Brown, Kingston Nub News

Brian Gaff pictured here receiving his award from the Mayor of Kingston / Credit: Kingston Council

Brian Gaff pictured here receiving his award from the Mayor of Kingston / Credit: Kingston Council

A Kingston resident who runs the borough's only talking newspaper for sight-impaired people has won an award for his efforts to keep the paper going through lockdown.

Brian Gaff moved to Kingston in 1956 and has been involved with the Kingston Association for the Blind for more than 20 years.

He received a special Covid award from the Mayor of Kingston in a socially-distanced ceremony yesterday for his work producing the paper when it was unable to access its studio last March.

Brian, who has no sight and uses voice-enabled software on his computer, found a way to recreate the studio's professional set-up on his home device and spent hours each week editing recordings from the paper's readers made using their phones at home.

He also found a way to send recordings to the paper's readers using digital and telephone-based systems, as the usual USB sticks with the paper on could no longer be sent out.

Brian told Nub News he was surprised to receive the award and grateful for the paper which kept him busy over lockdown.

He said: "I would also like to thank my four producers, John, Helen, Sandy, and David, who are sighted and help with lots of the things blind people like myself cannot do, gathering news from inaccessible web sites being just one of many, and our readers who have had to learn new skills.

"And of course my parent Charity, Kingston Upon Thames Association for the blind, whose three part time employees have been supporting our blind members over this time, doing more hours than they are paid for and even surviving all getting Covid 19 over Christmas.

"So a Big thank you to Jean, Lisa and Vanessa for their support while I laboured over a hot keyboard.

"Also special thanks for our web site and Alexa Guru, Jonathan, and also the British Wireless for the Blind association for their talking News paper app."

In her citation for Brian read out at the ceremony yesterday, Talking Newspaper producer Helen Mendelson said: "I cannot begin to imagine how Brian navigates around websites and his computer with no vision.

"His knowledge, his curiosity, and most importantly his commitment to ensure that the local blind community are not left out as we make more of life screen-based, are the reason why the talking newspaper is still created and appreciated each week."

She added: "The weekly Kingston Talking Newspaper keeps visually impaired people in touch with local news and vital information from the Council.

"This has been even more important during the pandemic when the world went online, becoming more inaccessible to VIPs."

You can listen to Kingston Talking Newspaper at

Eye Drops & Medication During Ramadan

During the Holy month of Ramadan, the Muslim community take part in fasting. This means that from sunrise to sunset, there is no eating or drinking (not even water).

How does Ramadan affect eye medication?

During Ramadan people often stop putting in eye drops (such as Glaucoma medication, antibiotic drops and lubricant drops) as it is believed this would be breaking fast. The reason people believe this would break the fast is that drops put in the eye can sometimes seep through a passage from the eye to the back of the throat. Once someone stops taking medication or eye drops during Ramadan, often they do not start taking them again as they do not notice an impact.

Why is this a problem?

Stopping medication can be dangerous, especially for those with the eye condition Glaucoma, as daily medication is necessary to lower pressure in the eye. For Glaucoma, lowering pressure is the only adjustable treatment which prevents loss of vision, so stopping taking prescribed medication can cause harmful effects. To prevent vision-loss getting worse with Glaucoma, drops must be used exactly as the instructions say. Daily medication also prevents infection and reduces inflammation after any surgery on the surface of the eye.

How to take eye drops without breaking fast

During Ramadan, drops can still be taken twice a day in a way that does not break fast by following these steps:

· Morning drops should be put in during SEHRI time when fast is broken.

· Evening drops should be put in during IFTAR time when fast is broken.

· Press the corner of the eye near the nose for a minute after putting each drop in to prevent it seeping through to the back of the throat. This practice is called Punctal Occlusion.

· Any eye drops after cataract surgery must be put in at the dosing time advised, but drops can still be taken without breaking fast by using Punctal Occlusion (described above).

Teaching and practicing this simple method during Ramadan is very important to prevent sight loss getting worse and other eye related issues.

This document has been produced by BAME VIsion

Census 2021

The first CENSUS took place in 1801 and it happens every ten years, the only exception to this was during WW2.

The CENSUS is important as it gives detailed information about society and the results are used to improve services for everyone at both a local and national level.

Since 1920 it has been a legal requirement to complete the survey and non completion can result in a fine of up to £1000

After the official date of 21st March 2021 you have until the 4th May 2021 to complete the survey. If you haven't completed the survey then from 21st March ONS employees may knock on your door, they will be wearing a high vis jacket and carrying ID. They will not ask for any bank or card details or any money, they will offer to complete the survey on your doorstep, whilst maintaining current Covid 19 guidelines.

If you have not completed your survey here is the link

Please call KAB on 020 8605 0600 if you require any support in completing this.

Share your views about the Covid 19 Vaccine

Healthwatch Kingston is the local champion for health and social care services. They have a new survey running and wish to capture your views on the Covid-19 Vaccine. They would be grateful if you could spare a few moments to tell them.

The NHS is doing everything it can to deliver Covid-19 vaccines in Kingston, but there might be things that can be improved. Healthwatch Kingston, in collaboration with Kingston council, the NHS and Kingston Voluntary Action, want to know:

  • What you think about the Covid-19 vaccination programme
  • What you think about information on the Covid-19 vaccine

Your feedback is confidential but can help services spot issues affecting care for you and your loved ones.  You can complete the survey by following alternatively call Kingston Healthwatch on  020 3326 1255 and leave a message requesting Kezia Coleman call you back to support you with completing the survey.

NHS Track and Trace App

The new NHS Covid-19 app for Apple and Android devices has launched today and can be downloaded from your app store. The app is free and is part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England and Wales.

The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in via QR codes.

Together with other sector organisations, Thomas Pocklington Trust has been involved in ensuring that the app is as accessible as possible for blind and partially sighted people. It is a native app build for Apple iOS and Android devices which means the built-in accessibility settings on your phone will work with it.

If you need access to information about the app in large print, braille or another format, you can request it by emailing [email protected]

You can also use the same email address to report accessibility problems and the NHS has committed to regular reviews and updates to improve accessibility further.

The link below takes you to a BBC news story with more information.