Low vision service provision in Scotland: review

Independent review of low vision service provision across Scotland carried out by NHS Education for Scotland.

Executive Summary

Low vision services aim to enable people with loss of vision to regain or maintain as much independence and autonomy as possible, and can include rehabilitation, visual aids, emotional support and advice. Low vision is common in older people and impacts on every part of a person's life. It is associated with falls, reduced capacity to carry out everyday activities, the need for residential care and is one of the strongest risk factors for functional status decline in community living adults. Evidence suggests that low vision services significantly reduce visual disability and are associated with positive patient outcomes. Furthermore, for the relatively small costs of low vision aids, there can be huge cost saving in terms of health and social care support.

To enable effective planning of services and respond to the needs of an ageing population, it is essential to understand the current provision within Scotland. To date, there has been no comprehensive review of services to facilitate this planning. Therefore, the Scottish Government has commissioned this review with the aim of determining the nature, extent and geographical distribution of low vision services in Scotland and to compare this with the location of older people.

The data was collected using a questionnaire. A total of 45 services were identified across Scotland, of which about half were optometry practices and hospital clinics, and the remainder were social services, local societies/charities and specialist teachers.

Geographical mapping of the services identified a cluster of services around the more densely populated central belt of Scotland and considerably more scarcity around the rural (more elderly) areas. The results identified an inequality of access to services in terms of both waiting times and provision of aids.

The review identifies a number of challenges to consider for future planning of services, including access, service capacity and effective integration and signposting between service providers.


Email: Liam Kearney

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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