Loneliness

As part of Royal Blind’s commitment to stand up for people across Scotland with sight loss, we are campaigning for action to help end loneliness.

Our report, Social Connections and Sight Loss, looks into the major causes of isolation among people living with sight loss, and examines what interventions are most effective in preventing and tackling loneliness.

The report also makes recommendations for actions which should be taken at a national and local levels to promote better social connections for people living with sight loss. You can jump to the full report or download a copy.

Our findings 

1. Who has experienced loneliness? 

Nearly two thirds (60%) of respondents said their sight loss had directly contributed to feelings of loneliness. Only 9.6% had neither experienced loneliness nor accessed services to overcome feelings of loneliness.

2. Drivers for loneliness 

Many of the drivers for loneliness amongst those surveyed are the same as those for other groups in society: problems accessing transport, bereavement and a lack of community facilities.

However we found there are causes of loneliness which result specifically from vision impairment and participants in the survey have expressed a wish for more services to tackle these issues. 

3. Interventions

The four top interventions to help overcome feelings of loneliness were support from Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded services, equipment to help with vision impairment, and contact with family and friends.

4. Emotional impact 

Participants in the survey were asked if they could give an example of a time when they had experienced loneliness. The isolating effects of sight loss were frequently referenced by respondents to the survey.

5. Support 

Participants in the survey were asked what they thought the Scottish Government could do to ensure those with vision impairment do not feel isolated or lonely. There was a large amount of support for more services like those provided by Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded:

6. Case studies

Royal Blind School pupil Lewis who was born without sight told how his vision impairment caused him to feel isolated at mainstream school. Now, Lewis is learning vital life skills to prepare for university by attending the Royal Blind School. Read his story.

“It got to the point where my old friends were making mean comments about how I wouldn’t ever be able to get a job. I felt really angry and had an argument with them and I ended up having to move tutors.” Read Lewis’ story. 

Veteran Monty highlighted the impact loneliness had on his life before he became a member of Scottish War Blinded’s activity hub, the Hawkhead Centre in Paisley. Monty began to lose his sight as a result of Glaucoma. 

He said: “The biggest danger of loneliness is how it makes you feel about yourself. The reality is that you might only speak to your Alexa device for days at a time – wishing her a Merry Christmas and no-one else. It can make you feel suicidal.

“You’re thinking to yourself, ‘what’s the real reason I’m here? What is the point of my life’. I think it’s something a lot of lonely people have to deal with at the moment.” Read Monty’s story.

Full report 

Click to read in fullscreen.