EastEnders writers have worked with a national blindness charity to script a storyline about character Dot Branning’s failing eyesight.
As Friday’s episode diagnosed the familiar character with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) revealed that it had been working with the show for months to make sure the illness was portrayed realistically.
An online blog for the programme said: “Dot Branning’s frightening and isolating experience of being diagnosed with AMD is one we at RNIB know all too well.
“At RNIB we hear from worried older people who have been diagnosed with this eye condition on a daily basis, concerned about what it means for their life and what support is available.”
The two organisations began planning Dot’s future in Albert Square in August, after the BBC team approached the charity almost a year ago.
RNIB’s interim boss, Sally Harvey, said: “Experiencing problems with your sight can be frightening and isolating, as Dot has found, and we applaud the way the story has been depicted by EastEnders.
“We look forward to continuing to work together as the storyline progresses, making sure Dot’s deteriorating sight is accurately portrayed as she takes on everyday challenges.
“We hope that Dot’s experience will encourage people to stop and think about their eye health, and, like Dot, seek help if they are concerned about their sight.
“Not everyone has a friend like Patrick to help them come to terms with losing their sight, but RNIB is here for everyone affected by sight loss, to give emotional and practical support.”
The charity said NHS figures show one in 10 of the over-65s live with AMD and urged people who are concerned to visit its website for information.
Following the episode, viewers took to social media to comment on how the issue was dealt with.