People with sight loss are greatly affected by Covid-19 pandemic, survey shows

A survey by eye research charity Fight for Sight has found that 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.

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 ten people surveyed say they are concerned that their eyesight has or will further deteriorate as a result.

Two in five respondents with significant sight loss also reported finding it difficult to follow social distancing rules due to their eye condition, 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 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. Blind and partially sighted people should also be given priority delivery slots for online shopping if they want it.

The charity is also 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.

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.”

Sherine Krause, Chief Executive of Fight for Sight

With so many breakthroughs on the horizon, science has the power to transform millions of lives, but unfortunately research is now at risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fight for Sight has launched an urgent appeal to help researchers cover the costs of delays to projects and returning to the lab and get eye research back on track.

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