Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds is backing a campaign by sight loss charity RNIB to ensure that everyone diagnosed with sight loss receives practical and emotional support to come to terms with their diagnosis. This is especially relevant in Torfaen where it is estimated that 1800 people suffer from visual impairment.

This week Mr Thomas-Symonds attended a parliamentary reception hosted by The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), and supported by Blind Veterans UK, for the launch of RNIB’s new report ‘See the need’. The report calls for every eye department in the UK to have access to a sight loss adviser, to support people when they’re told that they’re losing, or have permanently lost, their sight.

With eye departments currently at full capacity due to our ageing population, and demand for services set to increase, ophthalmologists lack the time they’d like to provide support.

Sight loss advisers can provide advice on everything from remaining in employment, to becoming more independent around the home, and reducing the risk of falls while out in the street environment. Research has also revealed that they can save significant amounts of money for health and social care budgets.

Failure to provide timely advice and support at the point of diagnosis can prevent people from leading fulfilling lives at home, at work, and in the community. Sight loss advisers can help people to develop the skills and confidence that they need to live independently. RNIB’s research found that 87 per cent of patients who had seen a sight loss adviser felt that they had been provided with the practical support needed to live with sight loss.

The Torfaen MP took part in a blindfolded walk around Pontypool back in September in order to better understand the challenges faced by those who are blind or partially sighted.

Mr Thomas-Symonds said: “It is vital that blind and partially sighted people receive quality, timely support when they’re diagnosed with sight loss. Taking part in a blindfolded walk with Guide Dogs Cymru helped me to better understand just how challenging adjusting to living with sight loss would be.

“Without the right support available, people can be left isolated, and unable to live independently.

“I am therefore supporting RNIB’s campaign for every eye department to have access to a sight loss adviser.”

RNIB’s CEO, Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE said: “It is crucial that every eye department in the UK has access to a qualified sight loss adviser.

“Ophthalmologists and their teams are currently under enormous pressure; their clinics are at full capacity, and they are being asked to do more, without additional resources. Sight loss advisers can help to ease this pressure, providing vital support to patients and signposting them to key hospital and community services.”

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