If a hospital consultant opthalmogist certifies that
you are blind or partially sighted, you can ask to be registered with
the local authority. Registration as blind entitles you to a package of
Television licence at reduced cost if you apply at
the post office
Travel concessions - You may get reduced fares on
railway and some airlines (internal flights only) which allow a blind
person and guide to travel for the cost of one fare on journeys made for
specified reasons. Contact a travel agent for more details.
A higher weekly payment of Income Support - When you
are claiming benefit from your local Social Security office plus Housing
and Council Tax Benefits if you get these from your local authority.
Fare reductions - Ask your social services/ social
work department if there are any local bus company concessions.
Special Income tax allowance - If you apply to the
local Inspector of Taxes
Social Security Benefits
- a guide for blind and partially sighted people (FB19) is
available free from your local Social Security office or from The Stationary
Office, The Causeway, Oldham Broadway Business Park, Chadderton, Oldham
OL9 9XD. (See also Financial Help)
Benefits and concessions for Registered Blind and
Partially Sighted People RNIB
Services may include:
Social workers to support visually impaired people
and their families;
Help and advice concerning the health and education
of visually impaired people, rehabilitation, job-training and employment;
Equipment and alterations in your home where necessary;
Machines for playing talking books;
Training in the use of Braille of Moon (simplified
Communication skills and training in getting about
independently indoors or out;
Help with leisure pursuits, recreation or sports
facilities in settings with sighted or other visually impaired people.
Your local authority may have a contract with a voluntary
organisation to provide these services rather than provide all these services
Ask at your local social services department.
If you are partially sighted low vision aids may help
you make use of your remaining vision. Low vision aids, including hand
and stand magnifiers, can be prescribed under the NHS through the Hospital
Eye Service or privately through opticians. If you think low vision aids
would be helpful, talk to your GP first.
Learning to get the best from restricted
vision requires both professional advice and training. For additional
professional advice contact the RNIB or The partially Sighted Society
Artificial eyes are obtainable through
your consultant and supplied by the National Artificial Eye Service which
arranges appointments at 16 centres servicing 72 clinics in England. Some
major eye hospitals have their own arrangements and there is limited private
provision. The Glasgow Eye Infirmary and the Eye Pavilion, Edinburgh and
Perth Royal Infirmary provide artificial eyes in Scotland. In Wales artificial
eyes can be obtained via the Artificial Limbs and Appliances Centres (ALACS)
At the Jobcentre your Disability Employment
can advise on opportunities and how you can benefit under the Access to
Work Programme. This may provide you with a reader or assistant for you
at your place of work, the loan of special equipment and help with travel.
The Employment Service may run a blind homeworker
scheme for visually impaired people who wis to run a business.
Royal National Institute for the Blind
give advice to people on how to obtain work or start businesses as well
as with rehabilitation and training.
The Partially Sighted
Society This national
association provides services and aids to daily living for people who
are partially sighted. Tel: 0207 371 0289
RNIB ( Royal National
Institute for the Blind) This
organisation provides information on all aspects of visual impairment,
including employment, mobility aids, benefits, technology, social services
and education. RNIB employs 2,000 staff and 10,000 volunteers working from 40 sites to serve
over 1 million blind and partially sighted people throughout the country
with over 60 services. For information on the services contact RNIB Enquiries, London Office: 0207 388 1266; Peterborough Customer Services:
01733 370 777; Scotland Office: 0131 311 8500; RNIB Resource Centre Scotland: 01786 451 752; Wales Office,
14 Neville St, Canton, Cardiff, CF1 8UX
C.E.L.L - Cancer of the Eye LinkLine They
are a voluntary helpline for people who have suffered the loss of an eye/eyes
through Cancer or other trauma and offer a 24 hour telephone helpline,
information, befriending scheme and guidance or just a shoulder for those
Telephone (24 hour): (44) 01761
411055 Do not dial the 0 for international calls
Their website is at : http://pages.zoom.co.uk/cell/index.htm
The Guide Dog for
the Blind Association (GDBA) In
order to become a guide dog owner, you must be 16 or over, have a significant
visual loss which may be combined with other disabilities, and be fit
enough to use and care for the dog. The organisation provides training
and support at virtually no cost for visually impaired people who would
like to have a guide dog. Tel: 0118 983 5555
Opsis is an association of national voluntary
organisations working together to provide service for people who are visually
impaired. Opsis partners
are Action for Blind People, Queen Alexandra College, The Catholic Blind
Institute in Liverpool, Henshaws Society for the Blind, The Royal
London Society for the Blind, The Royal National College for the Blind,
Royal School for the Blind, Liverpool, West of England school for Children
with Little or No Sight.
Henshaws Society for
the Blind provides
a range of services, including: education; rehabilitation; independence
and mobility training; residential and nursing care; sheltered accommodation;
community care; outreach and support; resource and local social centres,
for blind and partially sighted people of all ages in the North of England
and North Wales. Tel: 0161 872 1234
Scottish National Federation
for Welfare of the Blind. Tel:
0131 229 4060
Wales Council for
the Blind is an umbrella
organisation providing information, training and advice. It maintains
a network of organisations and a database of services and can refer inquiries
to local organisations and contacts. Tel: 02920 473 954
The National Library
for the Blind operates
a free and post-free lending service on over 3,500 volumes in Braille
and Moon, including childrens books and music in Braille
Tel: 0161 355 2000
Books in Large Print may be borrowed from
your local public library.
Calibre Audio Library
Audio books bring the pleasure of reading to people who have sight problems or other disabilities. They offer a wide choice of books on standard cassettes and MP3 disks, fiction and non-fiction, for both children and adults. The service is easy to use and is absolutely free.
be supplied free of charge from the British
Wireless for the Blind Fund via
your social service department. Tel: 01634 832 501
Telephone rental and installation
charges may be paid in part by Telephones
for the Blind.
Applications must be made by registered blind people via social services.
Tel: 01737 248 032
Talking Newspapers are circulated by over
500 voluntary groups throughout the UK. You can find out if there is one
in your area from the Talking Newspaper Association (United Kingdom) which
also distributes national newspapers and magazines on tape to subscribers
throughout the UK and overseas. Tel: 01435 866 102
The Royal London Society
for the Blind provides
advice on training and employment for visually impaired people. Tel: 01732
There are voluntary groups in towns
and cities throughout the UK. To find out about your local group, ask
at your social services department, or public library or contact the RNIB.
Tel: 0207 388 1266
NALSVI (the National
Association of Local Societies for Visually Impaired People), founded in 1991, is a forum for
local societies in the UK. Tel: 01904 671 921
The In Touch Handbook is a guide to services published by BBC Broadcasting
Support Services, available in print, Braille or on tape from: In Touch
Handbook, 37 Charles Street, Cardiff CF1 4EB
Ten Things You Should Know about Visual Impairment
Glaucoma is a condition
of the eye in which the nerve of sight (optic nerve) has been damaged.
This is usually because of increased pressure within the eye. The damage
is permanent and initially destroys the off centre part of your vision
- your peripheral vision. Sight will continue to deteriorate and eventually
cause blindness if the condition is not treated.
Chronic glaucoma is the most
common form of the disease and affects mostly people over the age of 40
How can you tell if you have glaucoma ?
You cannot tell by yourself that you have
chronic glaucoma until the condition is advanced and some sight has already
been lost, but all three glaucoma tests performed by an optician can detect
chronic glaucoma at an early stage
Chronic glaucoma has no symptoms and causes
no pain. One eye will fill-in for the other so it is very
difficult to notice if anything is wrong with your vision. By the time
you are able to notice a difference to your vision appreciable sight may
have already have been lost.
How common is glaucoma ?
About 1 in 50 people over the age of 40 have
glaucoma of some type. The condition, in some form, accounts for 13% of
those on the blind register.
How can I get tested for
Ask your optician for all THREE glaucoma
tests at your next eye test. The three tests are Ophthalmoscopy ( viewing
the optic disc with a special torch), Perimetry (assessing the field of
vision), Tonometry (measuring the eye pressure) - OPT. If your optician
is not willing or able to perform all three tests then find an optician
All three tests increase the likelihood of
detection by up to 4 times compared with ophthalmoscopy alone.
Who can have glaucoma ? Is
it hereditary ?
Anyone can have glaucoma but it is most common
in those people over the age of 40 (those of Afro-Caribbean origin have
an increased risk).
Glaucoma can be hereditary. Close blood relatives
of those with glaucoma are about six times more likely to suffer from
glaucoma than those without a family history. Free eye tests are available
if you are aged over 40 and have a first degree relative with glaucoma.
How is Glaucoma Treated ?
Once sight is lost from chronic glaucoma
it is lost forever. However, the earlier glaucoma is detected the more
likely it is that current sight can be maintained for the rest of life.
Treatment is usually by eye drops but can also be by tablets, laser treatment
or by surgery.
Note - Certain degrees of visual field loss will result in the loss
of a driving licence