Realities of living with sight loss – New research

Post date: 
Wednesday, 9 December 2015
My Voice research

Living with sight loss in the UK in 2015 is extremely tough. Whether you’ve recently lost your sight or been blind or partially sighted for many years, all too often the reality is lack of support, unemployment, insufficient income and social exclusion. 

These are the headline findings from RNIB’s new research My Voice, the largest ever survey of the experiences of blind and partially sighted people.

The survey findings should act as a wake-up call to all of us working to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted people. Whilst the findings show wide variations in experience, we must recognise for far too many, life is very difficult.  

The results from 1,200 My Voice participants tell us:

  • Only 17 per cent of people experiencing sight loss are offered emotional support in response to their deteriorating vision.
  • Only 27 per cent of blind and partially sighted people of working age are in employment – a fall from 33 per cent in employment in 2006.
  • 39 per cent of blind and partially sighted people of working age say they have some or great difficulty in making ends meet.
  • 35 per cent of blind and partially sighted people say that they sometimes, frequently or always experience negative attitudes from the general public in relation to their sight loss.
  • 31 per cent of people are rarely or never optimistic about the future.

Blind and partially sighted people today face inadequate support, insufficient income, inaccessible information, difficulties in getting around, digital exclusion – all of which contribute to isolation and social exclusion.

The survey provides clear evidence that as a society we’re failing blind and partially sighted people. Decisive action is needed; we cannot allow austerity and indifference to stop blind and partially sighted people achieving their full potential.

My Voice brings a clear message directly from blind and partially sighted people that they are missing out on crucial services and support and face discrimination and social exclusion. The eye health and sight loss sector must use these findings to critically evaluate our work and to sharpen and strengthen our efforts, so together we enable blind and partially sighted people to lead lives to the full and be equal citizens.

Read the full and summary reports on the RNIB website and access an interactive tool allows users to access some of the My Voice data

RNIB are hosting a number of events in the New Year to share the survey findings and to explore how we need to change our priorities and ways of working.

Fazilet Hadi

Lead Officer, UK Vision Strategy