RNIB Scotland has said an eye-care strategy launched by the Scottish government yesterday can help tackle a sight-loss “time bomb” facing the country.
The Scottish Vision Strategy is a five-year plan to develop more integrated health and social care support for people with impaired vision, promote earlier detection of sight-threatening conditions and tackle risk factors, including poor health. RNIB Scotland described it as “a real opportunity to secure world-class services”.
Though it hailed Scotland’s record on eye care, which includes the introduction of free NHS eye examinations in 2006, RNIB Scotland said that the number of people with some degree of visual impairment could double to 400,000 over the next 25 years. It pointed to causes such as an ageing population and high rates of diabetes, obesity, smoking and poor health.
Scottish health minister Shona Robison said that too many people were not aware of the link between poor health and sight loss. She added: “We need to ensure the right services are in place and there is a greater understanding of the need for emotional or practical support some need to deal with the trauma of losing their vision.”
There are currently 36,996 registered blind and partially sighted people in Scotland. Research indicates that as few as 23–38% of those eligible have chosen to register.