10 January, 2023 12:44

the numbers game

Sight loss is a growing menace affecting millions of people, both worldwide and here in the U.K. we are told that, here at least, up to two thirds is avoidable. Certain statistics are accepted as a given and the main ones are:

Over 2.5 million people have a degree of sight loss sufficient to make an impact on their daily lives. This is set to rise to 4.0 million by 2030.

Of these approximately 350 thousand are registered as partially sighted or blind.

Of those 42% are registered blind

Of those 5%are fully blind.

These figures are those that are generally accepted and thus provide a basis for planning and allocation of resources.

Unfortunately there are some problems with the figures.

Firstly the information for Scotland is thirteen years out of date

Secondly the information for the U.K. is six years out of date f

thirdly not all people receiving a Certificate of Visual Impairment go onto the register

fourthly not everyone who needs one has a Certificate of Visual Impairment

fifthly we have no idea how the pandemic has affected the figures.

The Certificate of Visual Impairment or CVI is the royal road to support, benefits, training and protection through registration. Unfortunately many people are not given access to theis road and, through poor information, do not step upon it.this has a profound upon our understanding of the numbers of people with sight loss.

If we take the basic figure of 355, 000 people on the register then we can make the following


Only 49% of people who need them have a CVI [1]. Assuming that there is a proportionate take up of registration then there should be at least 750,000 on the register.

We also know that possibly only 50% of people go onto be registered [2].

If everybody who should have a CVI registered then there would be 1.4 million on the register.

The ratio between those with sight loss and those on the register is roughly seven to one. If this ratio remains constant then the number of people in the UK with a degree of sight loss sufficient to impact their lives is 9.8 million people or roughly 12.5% of the population.

This is of course nonsense as we are informed it is onlu 2.5 million. Or is it?

The real question is what the real figures and what are the implications for the economy, the welfare bill, mental health and the NHS?


1 Agreement between ophthalmologists and

optometrists in the certification of vision impairment – Rebecca Bartlett, Hywel Jones,

Gwyn Williams, Daniel Farewell &

Jennifer H. Acton -Eye




433–440 (2021)

2 reflections on the CVI by the charity partnership – 2022