A national helpline has been launched to support people and their families struggling with the often “overwhelming” impact of sight loss.
More than 25,000 people across the north of Scotland are living with some form of impaired vision.
Many have been left feeling isolated and alone, unsure of where to turn for advice – either for themselves or their loved ones.
It is hoped this new initiative from charities Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans could significantly improve their lives.
You ask: ‘Why did it happen to me?’
Research from the organisations found more than half of people affected by sight loss wanted more information for support after their diagnosis.
And 90% said it is important their families are also included when it comes to dealing with the emotional impact this can have.
RAF and Territorial Army veteran Harry Murray, from Aberdeen, said his wife “bore the brunt” of his frustration after being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 2008.
The 90-year-old, who has been receiving support from the charities since, added: “I had a chip on my shoulder.
“You sort of get into your own little shell and ask yourself, ‘Why did it happen to me?’
“You do get emotional and upset at times. Once I started to get support and was able to get out more it got better.
“Things would be far more difficult without this support. It makes a huge difference.
“Many people don’t understand the difficulties that people with sight loss are facing.”
Emotional impact ‘can be overwhelming’
The free helpline offers tailored advice and information for blind and partially-sighted people, as well as their families and carers.
It is available from 9am-5pm on weekdays on 0800 024 8973, with other advice on the charities’ website.
Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans chief executive, Mark O’Donnell, said: “This new telephone service is there for anyone impacted by sight loss so that no-one in Scotland has to struggle with sight loss alone.
“Our research has shown that this is the kind of information that people want following diagnosis of an eye condition to help them find who can support them to live well with sight loss.
“We know it has been particularly difficult for people to access support due to the impact of Covid-19, and that it is particularly important to launch this national support line service now.”
Public Health Minister Maree Todd said: “The pandemic has been especially difficult for those with sight loss, increasing feelings of isolation and loneliness.
“It has highlighted even more so how vital it is that support is available to everyone affected by sight loss.
“The emotional impact of losing your sight can be overwhelming and people with sight loss who need support shouldn’t be left to cope with emotional distress on their own.”