New figures from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) show a large increase in the number of people living with sight loss in the Borders.
From 2008 to 2018 there has been an increase of 17% in people living with sight loss, up 530 to 3,710 in total across the Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk parliamentary constituency.
Most of those living with sight loss in the Borders are over the age of 65 with 3,010 of the 3,710 (81%) coming from this age group. This is due to the incidence of sight loss increasing with age.
Across the same area, there are 10,740 people living with one of the four most prevalent sight threatening eye conditions: age-related macular degeneration (6,340), cataract (1,250), glaucoma (1,920) and diabetic retinopathy (1,230).
To keep eyes healthy and to identify issues early, RNIB recommends regular eye tests. Research carried out by YouGov suggests that over 1 in 5 people in the UK have not had an eye test in the last two years. This equates to around 16,000 people in the Borders.
It is also recommended that people maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure, stay active, stop smoking, protect their eyes from the sun and eat a balanced diet.
Children, people over the age of 60, and those living with diabetes should have an eye test annually. Patients between the age of 16 and 59 should have an eye test every two years, according to NHS Scotland.
Commenting John Lamont MP said: “These figures from the RNIB show just how many people are living with sight threatening conditions such as glaucoma. Without treatment, these sorts of conditions can lead to problems in the future.
“It is really important that people of all ages go for their free eye test when it is due at their local opticians. Only then can people get the help that they need.
“As our population ages, it is important that the government prepare for the continued increase in numbers of those with sight related problems so that patients can get the help they need, when they need it.”