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From the moment you notice an issue with your eyes, you can find advice here to understand the process, have all the information you need and understand your options. We’re committed to providing you with the practical and emotional resources you need to take control and navigate your diagnosis with confidence. Eye care pathways can be complex and, while often described linearly, people may enter, leave, and re-enter several times depending on their condition. Typically, any end-to-end pathway is made up of several key stages.
The eye care support pathway mirrors this approach and is made up of four key stages with periods of waiting in between, alongside three thematic needs. These four stages also reflect a typical health and social care journey starting from the presentation of the problem, through to treatment, discharge, and aftercare.
The information, advice, and support people need to apply to all stages of the pathway, as well as people being empowered to ‘wait well’ as they transition between services are illustrated below.
More information on the Eye Care Support Pathway can be found on RNIB’s website.
Many of us take our senses for granted without fully appreciating what an intrinsic part they play in our day-to-day lives. Social studies have shown that sight, closely followed by hearing, are the senses people would find most difficult to lose. To experience a visual impairment can be shocking, upsetting and disruptive to life in general. This is where the Pocklington Trust and our sector partners step in to make sure those affected get the help and support they need, when and where they need it.
In the UK nearly two million people are living with sight loss, a number that continues to grow and is expected to double by 2050. This concerning trend is due to factors such as rising rates of obesity and diabetes, limited awareness of the connections between lifestyle choices, diseases, eye conditions and an ageing population.
With more than 50 percent of sight loss being preventable, we all must take steps to look after our eyes.
Maintaining good vision begins with regular eye tests. Regardless of whether your eyesight has changed since your last check-up or whether you wear glasses, it’s recommended that you have an eye test at least once every two years. An eye test serves two purposes: it assesses the need for corrective eyewear and, just as importantly, evaluates your overall eye health, capable of detecting other underlying health issues such as high blood pressure.
A quick check-up can anticipate future changes to our eyes, address potential concerns early, and ensure timely access to the appropriate treatment. Depending on the results, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist at a specialised eye health department within a hospital.
Booking an eye test is easy – simply contact your local optometrist (optician) to arrange an appointment. You can find your nearest optometrist using the NHS website.
Further information on eye examinations can also be found on the RNIB website.
When it comes to eye health, consider the following key areas where simple lifestyle adjustments and informed choices can significantly impact your long-term vision.
Diet – Research shows that your diet directly affects eye health. Experts recommend regular consumption of foods like eggs, oily fish, broccoli, leafy greens, and a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables for optimal eye health. For more insights, Vision Matters offers a comprehensive resource on Nutrition and the Eye.
Alcohol – Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to serious health conditions that, in turn, affect our eyesight. To better understand alcohol’s impact on the eye, consult the guidelines provided by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in their resource on Alcohol and the Eye.
Download Alcohol and the eye
Exercise – Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of sight loss resulting from high blood pressure, diabetes, and arterial hardening and narrowing. Explore further insights in the Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ guide on Exercise and Eyesight.
Download Exercise and eyesight
Smoking – Smokers are two to three times more likely than non-smokers to develop age-related macular degeneration and an increased likelihood of cataracts. For more detailed information, refer to the resources provided by the Macular Society on this topic.
Sunlight – The sun poses a significant threat to our eyesight. It’s crucial that our sunglasses provide protection against harmful ultraviolet rays (look for the ‘CE’ mark) and that we never gaze directly at the sun. There is more information on protecting your eyes from the sun available on the RNIB website
What are some of the health problems that cause sight loss?
Several general health conditions can impact your vision. Here are a few of them:
Obesity can increase the risk of developing certain eye conditions that may result in sight loss including:
Dementia can affect the processing of information received from our eyes, often mimicking sight loss. People with dementia may also experience visual difficulties caused by the brain, but there may be nothing wrong with the eyes.
High blood sugar levels in diabetes can lead to sight loss by damaging the delicate network of blood vessels supplying the retina, a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. Proper diabetes management is crucial in preventing this sight-threatening condition.
Coming to terms with sight loss will involve many practical challenges and adaptations in your life and the lives of your family friends and colleagues. Reactions to being diagnosed with sight loss tend to be similar to bereavement – you may experience feelings of denial, anger and fear and ask yourself “why me?”
If you have been diagnosed with sight loss, there will be a period of adjustment and loss from the life you used to have to the life you have now. For more information, visit the RNIB website. Here you can explore and understand the most common feelings to help you cope with sight loss.
Through the Visual Impairment Charity Sector partnership, we are engaged in a variety of workstreams to increase the availability of specially trained counsellors and other wellbeing practitioners across the UK. You can find out more about this vital work on the Visionary website
Vision impairment rehabilitation provides essential training and advice to people with vision impairments. It gives them the knowledge and skills needed to safely navigate their homes, overcome obstacles in their surroundings, maximise independence and actively engage in the wider community.
Upon receiving a diagnosis, the provision of appropriate care, treatment, and rehabilitation is key and you are entitled to receive these essential services. For information about your rights under The Care Act 2014, view the RNIB Guide to Social Care.
Early support is imperative as it enables people to learn and develop the necessary skills to ensure that they can continue in work, with activities and a way of life that is meaningful and important to them. Ongoing and timely support is equally vital in preventing feelings of isolation and hopelessness.
In addition to dedicated care professionals, numerous voluntary sector organisations are ready, able and willing to lend their support:
Visionary, a membership organisation for local sight loss charities, serves as a fantastic resource for support and rehabilitation. It offers invaluable information and personalised advice to those living with visual impairment, along with practical solutions to help you achieve maximum independence.
Social services can help in a range of areas, the level of which will be measured by a needs assessment.
For further information on this subject, and guidance on preparing for a social care assessment, visit the RNIB site.
The Pocklington Trust has also compiled a wealth of research and guidance on independent living, covering topics like home lighting and decor, energy conservation, and personal safety.
The process of registering as blind or partially sighted is usually processed by your local council and is entirely voluntary and confidential. Depending on the extent of your visual impairment, you will be registered as being either:
There are several advantages to undergoing the registration process, including:
An optometrist, often referred to as an optician, is the first person you will encounter if you have vision issues. They will refer you to a specialised eye clinic if they think it necessary, where you will undergo an examination by an ophthalmologist.
After the examination, the ophthalmologist will assess whether your vision qualifies for certification. If it does, they will complete a certificate (CVI) detailing your examination results, personal circumstances, and preferred contact method.
After receiving your certificate, your local social services team will contact you to ask whether you wish to be included on the register of blind and partially sighted individuals – the decision is entirely yours.
If you opt for registration, you will be requested to undergo a Community Care Assessment. This assessment will assist social services in identifying how they can best support you in maintaining maximum independence and comfort.
Using a white cane as a mobility aid can make a significant difference in the daily lives of people with sight loss. Whether it is navigating a busy café, taking the kids to school safely, or boarding the right bus, a white cane can help those with sight loss to lead active and independent lives.
In a nation where over two million people live with sight loss, white canes play an invaluable role as navigation tools and symbols of everyday life.
White canes come in various forms, from symbol canes, which signify blindness or partial sight, to long canes used to navigate obstacles like bollards, stairs, and curbs.
White canes come in different styles, lengths, and even colours. The choice of material and whether the cane is foldable impact its weight. If you’re uncertain about the most suitable cane for you, call the RNIB on 0303 123 9999 or visit the RNIB shop.
Build your confidence and improve your skills in using a white cane for safe and independent travel through orientation and mobility training.
To access this training, contact your local sensory team or visit the Royal National College for the Blind website.
The RNIB can also facilitate training through your local social services department. Call their helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not all white cane users are completely blind. This short video presents accounts of individuals with varying degrees of vision, all registered as blind or partially sighted. Just because they use a cane or a guide dog doesn’t mean they can’t see.
Watch our video on white canes and their various uses.