DCSIMG

Numbers of blind children rise across Scotland

In 2006 there were 787 children registered blind or partially sighted in Scotland, rising to 869 in 2012. Picture: PA

In 2006 there were 787 children registered blind or partially sighted in Scotland, rising to 869 in 2012. Picture: PA

  • by CLAIRE GARDNER
 

The number of children registered blind or partially sighted has risen across Scotland as survival rates for severely premature babies improve, according to new findings.

In 2006 there were 787 children registered blind or partially sighted in Scotland, rising to 869 in 2012, an increase of about 10 per cent.

Across the UK, that figure has increased by 9 per cent, with numbers of children being diagnosed leaping from 10,947 in 2006 to 11,928 last year, according to an analysis of data by the charity Blind Children UK.

Among under-fives, there was a 12 per cent rise over that period from 1,622 to 1,813.

The charity said the increase had come as overall survival rates among babies born between 22 and 25 weeks rose significantly from 40 per cent in 1995 to 53 per cent in 2006.

The earlier a child is born, the greater the risk of vision impairment, with one in 20, or 5 per cent, of severely premature babies now likely to be born blind, the charity said.

In spite of the growing numbers, the charity said its own survey of parents with children suffering sight loss showed they had reported feeling “depressed, isolated or upset” by the struggles they faced.

Parents said they had difficulties accessing playgrounds and events in their local area with their child and there were instances of children being rejected from schools and nurseries as well as swimming lessons.

A quarter said they had to wait longer than a year to have their child diagnosed with a 
vision impairment. Almost half felt that this delay had a negative or “strongly negative” impact on their child’s development as it meant that they did not get the support needed from their local authority or school.

Blind Children UK said it was promoting advice for parents on how to spot early sight loss.

The charity’s campaign has the backing of Lord Chris Holmes, the Paralympic swimmer, who is blind, and Gavin & Stacey actress Joanna Page.

Lord Holmes, an ambassador for the charity, whose Paralympic medal tally includes nine golds, said: “Every day four children in the UK are registered blind or partially sighted.

“Sight loss can leave children feeling isolated and afraid – I know this from personal experience.

“Blind Children UK helps gives children the skills, confidence and support to enable them to enjoy their childhood and reach their potential as adults.”

The charity’s chief executive Richard Leaman said: “Every day a child with sight loss goes without support, it dramatically affects their development.

“We help children and their families tackle all the challenges of sight loss, so that they can enjoy their childhood and fully realise their potential as adults.”

The charity said parents worried about their child should tell their GP or health visitor or doctor who is likely to refer the child to an ophthalmologist who specialises in examining, diagnosing and treating eyes.

 

Comments

 
 

Back to the top of the page

 

EDINBURGH
FESTIVALS
2014

#WOWFEST

In partnership with

Complete coverage of the festivals. Guides. Reviews. Listings. Offers

Let's Go!

No Thanks