Voluntary Sector: RNIB warns Government to increase investment

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) is warning of a 'sight-loss time bomb' in its bid to increase investment in treatment.

The charity is planning a campaign for April that calls on the Government to address 'chronic' under-investment in sight-loss treatment and improve its funding of preventative therapy and support services.

It claims the number of people suffering from sight loss will double in the next 20 years as the population ages and the incidence of age-related eye problems, such as macular degeneration, increases.

Macular degeneration has no known cause and the RNIB wants the Government to devote more resources to research.

It is also seeking state backing for an eye health campaign to encourage people to have regular eye tests. It will call on the Government to support a 'National Service Framework for Sight Loss', which would encompass prevention, treatment and support for people with sight problems.

Statistics on the cost of blindness to the state and the lack of support given to sufferers of sight loss will be published in an effort to raise public awareness.

Research on the 'grieving process' suffered by patients who have been told they will lose their sight is also set to be publicised.

The RNIB hopes the research, which links denial, depression and sight loss, will aid health professionals who work with eye patients.

It will target technology, design and architecture specialist press, as well as health, retirement, education, employment and social care publications.

National and regional press will also be approached with case studies and statistics.

The charity will begin the campaign at its Vision 2005 conference on sight loss in April, where former Home Secretary David Blunkett will speak.

Technology will be showcased at the event.

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