Information for people who are blind, partially sighted or losing their sight.
Problems resulting from sight loss appear in many forms with very different effects. The most common conditions are cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Sight loss can include blindness, partial sight and low vision.
Social Services has a Sensory Services Team which includes specialist social workers and care managers who support people with sight loss. They can provide a range of information and practical support. You may be referred to Social Services by the eye clinic at Singleton Hospital, or you can refer yourself or someone you are concerned about.
The Sensory Services Team offer advice and information about:
- Blue Badge scheme.
- Community alarms (lifelines) and big button telephones.
- Welfare benefits.
- Bus and rail passes.
- TV licence concessions.
- Talking/large print books and newspapers.
- Housing issues.
- Occupational therapy services.
- Carer's assessment.
- Communication formats.
- Guide Dogs Association.
- Voluntary organisations.
We also have a resource centre of equipment for people with sensory loss, offering an opportunity to trial equipment for suitability before purchasing from providers.
Depending on your needs, there may be other services which Social Services can provide. These may be related specifically to sight loss, or to other needs that you might have which require support. First you would need to have an assessment of your care needs.
Rehabilitation services for people with sight loss
The following types of service may be offered to people who meet the eligibility criteria.
- Orientation, safe and independent travel, which involves training and equipment to help you get around your home, to the local shops or further afield.
- Independent living skills programmes which aim to help you to remain independent in areas such as cooking, cleaning and leisure activities.
- Training in communication, which may involve a range of accessible formats such as IT/training in touch typing, Braille, basic computer awareness and in the use of specialised packages. Criteria for this training are being in education, employment or seeking employment, online shopping or maintaining contact with family in situations of extreme isolation.
- Specialist training to help you to maximise the use of your vision.
As part of your assessment, the Rehabilitation Officer will discuss with you how we can best meet those needs, who will provide the service and where.
The work we do with you will be time-limited. For most people this means that once your identified goal is achieved you will no longer need our support.
Support for other needs
Depending on your individual needs and eligibility, Social Services may be able to offer you the following types of support:
- Direct payments, which can enable you to arrange your own support, perhaps through employing a personal assistant.
- Domiciliary support if you need help to be able to live in your own home.
- Respite care, enabling you and your carer to have a break from the daily routine.
- Residential care home services.
The role of the optician and ophthalmologist
In order to discover any possible problem at an early stage it is important to have regular eye checks. If your optician discovers a problem with your eyes that may indicate a health issue s/he will refer you to your GP, an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) at a local hospital or a specialist Optometrist who may be able to offer advice and equipment under the 'low vision scheme'.
At the eye clinic in Singleton Hospital there is an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer who may be able to offer support and advice.
A Consultant Ophthalmologist may complete a 'Certificate of Vision Impairment' (CVI) categorising your condition as either sight impaired or severely sight impaired. By signing this certificate you will have agreed for additional copies to be sent to your GP and the local authority (Social Services). This will enable you to have your sight loss entered on the local authority register of people with sight loss, kept in accordance with the Social Services and Wellbeing Act (2014).
Registering as blind or partially sighted
In order to register as blind or partially sighted you will need to obtain a CVI (Certificate of Vision Impairment) from an ophthalmic specialist.
Is it compulsory to register?
No, applying to be registered as blind or partially sighted is completely voluntary. By not registering, you will not be denied access to services. However there are a few benefits which are only available to people who register.
It makes it more straightforward for you to access certain services and benefits.
It also allows your name to be included on the register which assists your local authority in planning future services.