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Only 8% of sight loss patients got advice

FEWER than one in ten people who lost their sight were offered formal counselling after they found out they were going blind, according to new research.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland has found that only eight of 56 outpatient departments in Scotland have support staff in place to help patients after their diagnosis, and only 8% of patients received formal counselling to cope with the condition.

RNIB Scotland is actively campaigning health boards and local authorities to extend the posts of existing vision support officers, who offer emotional support and practical advice to people who are becoming blind. It is also urging the public to sign its petition calling for every eye clinic to have access to a one.

Almost a quarter of sight loss patients leave hospital without knowing the name for their condition, according to the RNIB.

John Legg, director of RNIB Scotland, said: "Although sight loss has been compared to bereavement, many people are left isolated with no idea of where to find help. And yet without support in coming to terms with sight loss, people find it very difficult to develop positive coping strategies. They can rapidly lose confidence, leading to social isolation and potential mental health problems, often manifested in feelings of depression, anger and confusion.

"No one should have to face the prospect alone or without the support they need to help them through the situation. This is why we will be focusing our efforts on making sure more people are reached."

In Scotland, 10 people begin to lose their sight every day. By 2030, as many as 400,000 Scots could be affected by sight loss.

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