By Alexa Kaczka
A new centre created to help blind and partially sighted people in Tayside has opened today.
The Vision Support Service at the Ninewells Hospital in Dundee has been established to help people come to terms with losing their sight and help them to maintain their independence.
It has been funded by the Scottish government and provides a range of information and advice about aids and services for blind and partially sighted patients.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Scotland, which estimates that around 188,000 people in the nation already live with sight loss that impacts their daily life, was behind the creation of the centre.
The organisation believes that the number of people in Scotland affected by vision loss could double by the year 2031, indicating the acute need for the establishment of places these people can visit to receive help and support.
It has been established in partnership with NHS Tayside, which has provided refurbished space within the ophthalmology department of Ninewells Hospital.
John Legg, director of RNIB Scotland, said that ten people start to lose their sight in Scotland every day, with just a small percentage of those affected by the conditions that cause vision loss being given support and counselling, despite the impact sight loss can have on their lives.
He added: "That is why RNIB Scotland is working to establish a network of Vision Support Services in each health board area where none exist at present.
"These will offer newly diagnosed people the support they need to coming terms with sight loss and can also refer them on to other services available to them."
Consultant ophthalmologist Professor Carrie MacEwen said: "While the vast majority of people attending Ninewells hospital's eye department successfully have their vision preserved or restored, there remains some who have untreatable conditions who require support and advice because of vision loss."
Some of those attending the centre may have been victims of the Acanthamoeba parasite which experts recently warned contact lens wearers about as it can cause blindness in some cases.
by Martin Burns