Sight loss leading to thousands of Scots facing loneliness

Press Release | 01/05/2018

Scotland’s biggest charity supporting blind and partially sighted people has called for action to tackle loneliness among the nearly 200,000 Scots who live with sight loss. Research from Royal Blind shows that almost two thirds of vision impaired people have experienced loneliness because of their sight loss.

Lewis, a pupil at The Royal Blind School, has spoken about how vision impairment can cause lonelinessNearly three hundred people of all ages supported by Royal Blind and sister charity Scottish War Blinded participated in the study which informed a submission to the Scottish Government’s consultation on loneliness. Almost two thirds (60%) of the vision impaired people who were consulted said that their sight loss had directly contributed to feelings of loneliness, while almost all respondents (90%) said they had accessed services to overcome feelings of loneliness.

The top three causes of loneliness were challenges with mobility and accessing transport, problems such as other health issues, and vision impairment making it hard to make friends. The top three interventions to 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. 

With the number of people with sight loss projected to double over the next two decades in Scotland, Royal Blind is calling for the Scottish Government’s new national strategy on loneliness to include actions to support for people with vision impairment, including more community transport schemes for disabled people, and more vision impairment training in communities and public services.

Responding to the findings Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded said:

“Our research shows that vision impairment can lead to loneliness at every stage of life, from making it difficult to make friends at school, to sight loss leaving older people unable to get out and about. The impact of sight loss must be part of the national discussion we are having on tackling loneliness in our society.

“There is much we can do to improve this situation, and that is why the Scottish Government’s consultation on loneliness is welcome.  We hope it leads to initiatives such as more community transport schemes for people with sight loss and action to ensure people with vision impairment can take part in local groups and activities.

“Individual attitudes are important as well. Our research showed that many people with sight loss want more of us make an effort to ensure we don’t exclude them from conversations and activities, and that is something we can all do.”