Charity seeks more sight loss support

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A Morpeth resident coming to terms with sight loss has backed a charity’s campaign for more specialist advisers.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has published a Being There When It Matters report as part of its campaign for every eye department in the country to provide access to a qualified sight loss adviser.

Currently, only 30 per cent of such departments offer the service, and in the North East it is only available at eye clinics in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Darlington, sometimes just one or two days a week.

Advisers offer dedicated practical and emotional support, such as advice on staying in work, retaining independence and reducing the risk of falls.

Morpeth resident Joyce Anderson, 69, who has been supported by a sight loss adviser at Newcastle RVI, says the service has been a huge help.

“I was lucky enough to see a sight loss adviser immediately after the consultant had told me that I was going to be registered blind,” she said.

“It’s a very traumatic experience being told that there is nothing more they can do and I’m very grateful that I was able to see an adviser and ask all the questions I had going round in my head.

“I really think that everyone should have this level of support when they are told they are losing their sight.”

Research by the charity reveals that nine out of ten people surveyed in the region would expect to be referred to an adviser if they found out they were losing their sight.

Now RNIB is calling on people to put pressure on politicians to highlight the importance of such advisers with decision-makers.

Chief Executive Lesley-Anne Alexander said: “Every single day 100 people in the UK begin to lose their sight, but many of us can only imagine how devastating it must be to find out it’s happening to us.

“It is a profound injustice that the majority of people in this situation are not given any specialised support to help them through this extremely traumatic time.

“In less than 40 years the number of people with sight loss is going to be double what it is now.

“We are determined to make the Government realise that properly qualified sight loss advisers are not only absolutely crucial for patients, but that they make economic sense too.”

To find out more about the campaign visit www.rnib.org.uk/beingthere