PEOPLE have been ‘needlessly’ losing their sight due to delays in diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care, according to a blindness charity.

Michael Tupper, who suffers from blurred vision, has backed a new campaign from the Royal National Institute of Blind People to raise awareness about avoidable sight loss.

In a national study involving 91 opthalmologists and 59 ophthalmic nurses, the charity found 37 per cent believed patients were sometimes losing their sight unnecessarily due to delayed treatment and monitoring caused by clinics being overstretched.

Mr Tupper, 67, of Eshton Terrace, Clitheroe, said: “There are lots of eye sight problems which are preventable, so long as people go for eye tests before they happen. We just want people to be aware that lots of these problems can be averted or resolved quickly, so long as they are picked up.

“Losing your sight can have a huge impact on your life, affecting mobility, independence, employment opportunities and confidence, yet 50 per cent of sight loss in the UK is avoidable.” The RNIB’s report, titled ‘Saving money, losing sight’, said: “NHS England must undertake an urgent inquiry into the quality of care in ophthalmology.

“Commissioners, hospital trust managers and ophthalmology staff (at all levels) must urgently meet to discuss capacity issues in local eye clinics.”

The report gave Lancashire County Council a positive rating for considering sight loss in its needs assessments of the county, but found East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, which controls health budgets in the area, had so far failed to use this assessment when making commissioning decisions.

Dr Mike Ions, chief clinical officer of East Lancashire CCG, said: “We are currently in the process of writing our ophthalmology commissioning plans and are working closely with our public health colleagues to ensure that the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and other public health factors are integral to our plans.

“We will also be carrying out patient engagement as part of the process.”