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RNIB backs report recommendations to improve low vision services

RNIB is adding its voice to calls from across the sight loss sector, to review the commissioning and provision of low vision services in England. This follows the publication of survey results by the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC).

The CCEHC low vision survey was carried out in April and May 2021, to gain an understanding of how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted low vision assessment services. 

Low vision services

The NHS provides low vision services to help you make the most of your vision if you have sight loss. Each patient’s level of vision and needs are assessed, with recommendations for equipment or techniques to help. This could include use of magnifying glasses or devices, or tips on how to make the most of remaining vision, called vision strategies.

Ongoing problems and new challenges

The CCEHC survey results confirm what has long been understood from case studies – that there was already wide variation in the provision of services for blind and partially sighted people throughout the country. Pressures on healthcare caused by the coronavirus pandemic has created additional challenges, reducing capacity in low vision clinics and creating backlogs of people needing an assessment.

Supporting the CCEHC’s call for action

RNIB is backing the CCEHC’s calls to:

  • Risk assess those waiting for a service to prioritise those in greatest need, with planning to clear backlogs within six months.
  • Review existing low vision provision to identify which areas have gaps and variations in services for commissioners to address.
  • Develop service specifications and quality standards to assist in the resourcing, consistency and governance of services.

Eleanor Thompson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at RNIB, said: “The CCEHC survey shows the postcode lottery that blind and partially sighted people face in accessing services designed to maximise the use of their remaining vision, has become more extreme due to the impact of coronavirus on low vision clinic capacity.”

“RNIB is contributing to this work directly, in developing new service specifications and quality standards for low vision services, and will continue to work with our partners at CCEHC to press for the adoption of these standards by the NHS.”