Al’a Nazzal

How our Visual Rehabilitation Specialist enables visually impaired Palestinians to adjust to life without sight

  • 03 Dec 2019

At St John Eye Hospital our aim is to tackle preventable blindness across Palestine. But some conditions are simply irreversible or untreatable. Unfortunately, those living with untreatable visual impairment in Palestine have often been left with zero support for living their life without sight – making their condition even more psychologically distressing and robbing them of their independence.

We have recently introduced a dedicated Low Vision Therapy unit to help such patients adapt to life without sight by giving them the tools and confidence to navigate this different way of living. It has been an exciting development for our hospital, and spearheading our efforts here is Al’a Nazzal, our Vision Rehabilitation specialist. She explains her role:

“I graduated as an Optometrist initially, but when I began working I noticed that the eye health system in Palestine completely lacked services for patients with permanent visual impairment. I sought to tackle this condition by gaining a specialised qualification in visual rehabilitation from a university in Jordan – and I remain only one of two people in the whole of the West Bank who is qualified in this speciality!

St John Eye Hospital has been a great place to develop my career. This organisation understands the importance of visual rehabilitation in improving the quality of life of patients. I was supported by the hospital to attend a specialised course to deal with patients with multiple disabilities. It has enabled me to adapt my care, testing and treatment to be suitable for all.

What I love about my job is seeing the happiness of my patients when their quality of life has dramatically increased. Recently, a mother came to our vision rehabilitation department with a genetic disease that affected her central vision. She could not teach her three children because it is difficult to see the prints of the books, she couldn’t see the temperature on her oven, or even the expiration date of the products. She was frustrated and depressed. We provided her with the tools to properly care for her family such as magnifying glasses and lighting. The whole family was happy because by helping their mother; we were able to improve the quality of life for all of them!”

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