Man with sight loss image

A survey by eye research charity Fight for Sight has found that four in 10 people with sight loss fear their sight will further deteriorate during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they struggle to access treatment for their eye conditions.

Polling 325 UK adults with an eye condition, the Fight for Sight survey found that 73 percent of respondents said their access to treatment has gotten worse during the pandemic, with some reporting cancelled surgeries, as well as cancelled injections for age-related macular degeneration.

Four in 10 people surveyed also said they are concerned that their eyesight has or will further deteriorate as a result.

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Two in five respondents with significant sight loss also reported finding it difficult to follow social distancing rules as a result, while more than half said their access to food and other products has gotten worse during the pandemic, including access to food deliveries. This has been made more difficult by the fact that blind and partially sighted people are not classed as a vulnerable group, and therefore are not given priority delivery slots.

Fight for Sight is calling on the UK Government to come up with an urgent plan to make sure that people do not lose their eyesight due to lack of appointments as a result of social distancing measures, and to update its advice to retailers on social distancing measures to ensure the needs of people with poor vision are not excluded or put at risk.

In addition, the charity is raising awareness for the need for more investment in eye research, which could transform the lives of over two million people with sight loss through new treatments as well as taking pressure off an already stretched NHS.

Chief Executive of Fight for Sight Sherine Krause said: “Our survey shows that people with sight loss are particularly affected by the pandemic, which is having a huge impact on their wellbeing and has the potential to cause long-term damage to their sight.

“To address this, the Government must develop a plan that addresses the immediate need of people with eye conditions, so they don’t become blind because of lockdown and social distancing measures.

“Additionally, we’re calling on the Government to urgently update its advice to retailers on social distancing measures to ensure the needs of people with poor vision are not excluded. In the longer term, we must continue to fund research for new, more efficient treatments and cures for the leading causes of blindness and sight loss, to help ease the pressure on our NHS.”

Fight for Sight is a national charity dedicated to funding pioneering research to prevent sight loss and treat eye disease.

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