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Eye Health and Sight Loss

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Eye Health and Sight Loss JSNA Jan 2016   pdf   (537 KB)


Executive Summary

The aim is also to raise awareness of eye health amongst the general public, encompassing those people most at risk of eye disease, which will allow and support individuals to develop personal responsibility for their own eye health. Additionally it is the intention to raise awareness with health and social care practitioners and to ensure the early detection of sight loss and prevention where possible.

This Needs and Assets Assessment outlines the current health, social and economic landscape, identifies the future trends indicating increases in the numbers of people with sight loss, considers the impact of responding to the consequent demand for services, and details present service provision. The document also considers local and national strategies and identifies current gaps in services, recommending provision for Blackpool's future sight loss priorities.

Collaboration was central to the development and production of this Needs and Assets Assessment, which forms part of Blackpool's Joint Strategic Health Needs and Assets Assessment. Participating partners included, local health and social care services, as well as the voluntary sector, patient/service user groups and advisory agencies.


Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss that has a significant impact on their daily lives. Furthermore, the number of people living with sight loss is anticipated to increase over the coming decade and it is therefore important, when planning for local support and preventative services, that the needs of people with sight loss and those at risk of losing their sight are understood.

This Joint Strategic Health Needs and Assets Assessment for Eye Health and Sight Loss intends to inform the Blackpool Eye Care Strategy, which will support stakeholders in the future commissioning of person centred services, improve the quality of care services, discuss broader health and social issues associated with eye health and sight loss, support campaigns and promote collaborative working. The aim is also to raise the general public's awareness of eye health, encompassing those most at risk of eye disease and encouraging and supporting individuals to develop personal responsibility for their own eye health. It is also the intention to raise awareness with health and social care practitioners to ensure prevention and the early detection of sight loss.

Local context

The total population of Blackpool is approximately 142,000. There are estimated to be 4,810 people, i.e. 3.38% of the total population of Blackpool, living with sight loss. This estimate includes 590 people living with severe sight loss (blindness).

In Blackpool 535 people are registered as severely sight impaired or blind and 730 are registered as partially sighted or sight impaired. 130 of this registered population are also recorded with other disabilities. However, as registration with the local authority is voluntary and as the vast majority of those with visual impairment do not become registered (due to stigma, lack of awareness etc.), these figures are an under representation of the true picture.

Future projections indicate that the number of people living in Blackpool with sight loss will rise to 5,130 by 2020 i.e. 3.51% of the total population. This is anticipated to increase further to 4.04% by 2030.

N Vision, Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Society for the Blind  are a local independent charity providing services and support to anyone with reduced vision living in the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre areas, regardless of age or means. N Vision currently has 1,018 adults, who are Blackpool residents, on their database. 97 new referrals were made to N Vision between 1st April 2014 and 31st March 2015, 33 of whom were certificated as sight impaired and 31 as severely sight impaired. The remaining 33 were not knowingly certificated but approached N Vision for support for their reduced vision. In the same period 98 Blackpool residents were archived from the database, which is indicative of the continuing annual trend of retaining a static number due to the database demography. For example, Blackpool has a younger transient population and those with poor sight move into the area, seek help, and then move on. Similarly, older clients leave the database due to deteriorating health or death.


These Recommendations have been informed by the Consultation outcomes, the UK Vision Strategy and the three outcome areas.

Everyone in the UK looks after their eyes and their sight.

    • To raise awareness of how important good eye health is and the need to have regular eye health checks so to detect sight loss.
    • To promote eye examination and eye care services by targeting and encouraging referrals and signposting from specific health services for individuals at increased risk of sight loss due to falls, diabetes, alcohol, smoking, blood pressure, substance misuse etc.
    • To ensure appropriate support is provided to enable independence.

Eliminating avoidable sight loss and delivering excellent support for people with sight loss.

    • To review the paper based referral process from community optometrists in order to  improve the process and implement e-referral. For e-referral to be possible, community optometrists will need a secure NHS e-mail address. To be given an NHS e-mail address, the community optometrists will be required to complete the IG Toolkit. Funding is needed for the completion of the IG Toolkit.
    • To critically review the certification of visual impairment and registration process, identifying how the process can be improved, and reviewing how an electronic system can be implemented as a priority.
    • To ensure that the health and social care needs, for people with sight loss, are reassessed at regular intervals and their programme of care is adjusted accordingly.
    • The pathway for eye health for children be reassessed with a view to implementing a more structured and monitored process and encourage a greater number of parents to access the pathway.
    • To review how the role of the ECLO can be extended to include children's services and to identify funding and resources to ensure sustainability of the ECLO in the long term.

Inclusion, participation and independence for people with sight loss.

    • To ensure that the Blackpool Low Vision Booklet continues to map and clearly identify the services which provide interventions and support to people with sight loss in Blackpool. To broaden the accessibility of the Booklet by developing a web based version.
    • To develop the provision of specialist visual impairment rehabilitation services for children and young people where they are not in education and not supported by Blackpool Council's Sensory Support Service. 
    • To review how people with sight loss, who are supported by the Blackpool Council's Sensory Support Service, receive equipment and aids to support independent, daily living in their home. To ensure the timely supply, and training in the use of, appropriate equipment and aids, regardless of means. To ensure that mobility training can be accessed when deemed appropriate by the individual with sight loss.
    • To develop and implement an effective transition process for young people from children's services to adult services.
    • To review how the information held on the register of visual impairment can be used to disseminate information to people with sight loss.
    • To explore the development and promote sight loss peer support group/s. Recognising the benefits that peer support can provide and how a supportive setting can encourage people with visual impairment to discuss their concerns, access services and support and regain or maintain their independence. The groups would be developed in consultation with participants and reflect differing needs, ages, interests etc.
    • To support the development of individuals through the provision of peer groups and 1 to 1 ambassadorial/advocacy support to ensure that visually impaired people are encouraged and enabled to access education, training and development and employment opportunities. The support will be person-centred, flexible, timely and available for all age groups.
    • To continue to promote accessible public transport and work with Blackpool Transport and its providers to enable accessibility for people with sight loss to maintain their independence.
    • To raise awareness and consider how the introduction of new technologies can be utilised by people with sight loss and to support them to access and use technologies to regain or maintain their independence.
    • To ensure that the current Low Vision Aids Scheme is funded and resourced to enable and support sustainability and the development in future service provision e.g. to promote the availability and benefit of electronic devices over traditional low vision aids.