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Huge rise in Suffolk's blind population expected in next decade

PUBLISHED: 05:39 03 October 2019

New research shows that Suffolk residents are 0.7% more likely to be blind than the rest of the UK. Picture: JOHN STILLWELL/PA Wire

New research shows that Suffolk residents are 0.7% more likely to be blind than the rest of the UK. Picture: JOHN STILLWELL/PA Wire

Archant

Nearly 30,000 people in Suffolk are blind or partially sighted - with the number expected to rise by nearly a third over the next decade, new research has shown.

A picture showing the RNIB Portland Street office in London Picture: ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BLIND PEOPLEA picture showing the RNIB Portland Street office in London Picture: ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BLIND PEOPLE

The figures from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) showed that residents in the county are more likely to develop sight problems than other parts of the UK - with 32 out of every 1,000 people in the area living with partial vision.

And the number of people blind or partially sighted people in Suffolk is expected to rise dramatically over the next 10 years, from 29,600 today to 39,000 by 2030.

That means 39 people out of every 1,000 people in the county could be living with sight loss by the end of the next decade.

The Generation Eye Report, published by National Eye Health Week and Specsavers, revealed that 55% of people felt deteriorating sight was their main concern about growing older.

But Eileen Moriarty, Specsavers' regional relationship manager, does not think that people are taking the risks seriously enough.

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She said: "These statistics are a real indication that residents in Suffolk and across the UK are not having regular enough check-ups and are still unaware of their importance.

"Long gone are the days when a trip to your opticians was just about finding out your prescription and choosing your specs or contact lenses."

Some of the issues raised in the Generation Eye Report were that many young people are unaware of which factors can bring on conditions with blindness symptoms.

It said: "In 2014, the Office of National Statistics found that around a quarter (23%) of our UnSeen Generation (18 to 24-year-olds) were smokers.

"However, the number of young adults who are aware that smoking can damage eye health is only one in 20 (5%)."

In older people, aged 54 to 45, the main reason for not seeking help with vision is vanity.

In total 80% of them admitted they had experienced problems such as tired eyes when reading close-up on a phone or book.

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