The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Scotland is calling for more support to be given to people when they are newly-diagnosed with a visual impairment, as well as a review of the registration system used by local authorities to inform them of what services are on offer.
Launching its manifesto ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections in May, the Scottish arm of the charity stressed that 10 people lose their sight in Scotland every day. And in addition, around 180,000 Scots have significant sight loss.
Interim director of RNIB Scotland, Ross MacFadyen, said: “Being told you are going to lose some or even all of your vision is devastating news. People need reassurance that they can find their lives and independence again – help that our hard-pressed health and social care professionals are often too busy to provide themselves.”
Mr MacFadyen highlighted: “There are vision support services in over half the health board areas in Scotland, but we want to make sure this vital support is available to everyone.”
Also calling for the official registration system to be streamlined and improved, Mr MacFadyen explained that currently all local authorities must maintain a register of people who are blind or partially sighted in their area, and return information on this annually to the Scottish Parliament.
The charity stated that registration provides crucial ongoing statistical information on the numbers experiencing sight loss, yet in 2010 the Scottish government stopped collating and publishing the figures returned by local authorities.
Mr MacFadyen emphasised: “If Scotland is to retain its position as a leader in eye healthcare, it is essential this information is available to inform current and forward planning at a time when sight loss is projected to increase. We want the health department to resume making these figures available annually. We also want the system to be redesigned so as to encourage a higher proportion of those who are eligible to register.”