Needs Assessment - Visual Impairment in Adults

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This needs assessment is a summary of the sight loss pathway and the provision of low vision services.

It is centred on the non-clinical aspects of provision; acute and specialist services are currently (2021) subject to a review by Sussex Health and Care Partnership (SHCP).

It is important that all elements within a care pathway, whether relating to a person’s clinical or social needs, are viewed together to ensure the range of needs and concerns are addressed. To this end, an initial discussion has taken place with NHS commissioners.

Executive Summary

In West Sussex, there are an estimated 34,000 people living with sight loss, with an estimated 4,700 people who are blind.

Sight loss and hearing loss are strongly associated with age. As the population of West Sussex increases and the proportion of older people increases, so will the prevalence of sensory impairment. To provide a sense of the scale of change, at present there are an estimated 6,300 people aged 75 who have a registrable eye condition; using population projections, an increase of almost 30% is estimated within the next 10 years.

In addition to age, we know that some groups have a higher risk of sight loss, including smokers, some ethnic groups, and people with a learning disability, and that there are links to other conditions such as stroke, diabetes and dementia.

There are four main eye conditions:

  • age-macular degeneration (AMD)
  • glaucoma
  • cataracts
  • diabetic eye disease

We know that many people in the community would benefit and avoid sight loss by early diagnosis and timely treatment. Some eye conditions such as glaucoma, are asymptomatic in early stages. This means that regular eye tests are vital and should be widely promoted.

Once a sight loss diagnosis has been made, considerable support is required. The UK Adult Sight Loss Pathway outlines the variety or organisations and sectors who can support someone to adjust, practically and emotionally. It is important that sight impairment is considered in all aspects of health and wellbeing, including support to remain physically fit, access to all health care, community services and facilities, and adaptations to maintain independence and employment for working age adults.