All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment reception, Members Dining Room, House of Commons, 4-6pm, 3 March 2010.
Roger Gale meets blind campaigners to hear about key issues for people with sight loss
North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, met blind and partially sighted campaigners from across the country who are working at local level to secure a better deal for people with sight loss. The event celebrated the work of the cross-party parliamentary group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment, which meets to raise parliamentarians' awareness of issues affecting people with sight loss and on prevention of sight loss.
Richard Holmes, RNIB's Regional Campaigns Officer for London & South East said: "Local campaigners were delighted to be invited to the Westminster reception and meet with MPs to discuss their priorities for change. At the moment campaigners are working hard locally to improve NHS provision of information to people with sight loss, support for people at the time they are diagnosed with sight loss, as well as problems with the pedestrian environment, like pavement parking.”
The reception also featured opportunities for MPs to experience specialist equipment used in the workplace by people with sight loss. However, two thirds of blind and partially sighted people of working age are not in work.
After the reception Roger said: "On average around 3,000 people in every parliamentary constituency have sight loss. This was an excellent opportunity for me to learn about the equipment available to people with sight loss, enabling them to live independently and take up a wide range of jobs. However, it is important that local employers are aware of the government's Access to Work scheme, which can pay up to 100 per cent of costs associated with employing a disabled person. With this financial support in place, employers should have a positive attitude towards employing disabled people, knowing the support and advice they need is readily available."
Roger also experienced the latest imaging technology available in some optometric practices. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a special scanner that creates a three dimensional image of the layers of the retina. This fast, non-invasive test can help with the detection and diagnosis of potentially sight threatening conditions like AMD and other retinal conditions like macular holes.
Following his own test Roger , who was identified as having the early stages of a cataract, said: "The screening is swift and effectively impressive. I would urge people who have not had their eyes tested recently to make it a priority. A sight test can pick up more than whether you need glasses or a new prescription- it could pick up serious problems with your eye health, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, which can lead to sight loss and ultimately being registered as sight impaired if not managed or treated promptly."