The SNP is clear that everyone with sight loss deserves the opportunity to live life to the full and that the lives and rights of disabled people should be protected during this pandemic and beyond.
I agree with the SNP that sight loss should be a focus for the next Scottish Parliament to ensure that visually impaired people can access early treatment and support, have fairer chances in education and employment as well as more inclusive communities and accessible communication.
We believe that there is also a need to raise awareness of the impact of the current pandemic on people with visual impairment and we commend all the charities, including Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans, working throughout Scotland to provide vital support for people living with visual impairment.
The SNP Government has been supporting NHS Boards in Scotland to minimise delays during the Coronavirus crisis through specific actions, including investing £3 million so patients with chronic eye conditions can be assessed by community optometrists.
In line with guidance issued by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, a risk stratification process has been introduced to ensure that patients at most risk of permanent sight loss are prioritised for treatment.
In the Scottish Budget 2021‐22, as well as continuing to support existing services through the £111.7 million General Ophthalmic Services budget, the SNP Scottish Government committed to continue to deliver the recommendations of the Community Eyecare Services Review.
The Scottish Budget also commits £27 million for Fair Start Scotland in 2021/22, providing personalised support for unemployed disabled people, those with health conditions or other barriers to moving into fair and sustained work.
The SNP Scottish Government has also set a Delivery Plan in 2021 to ensure that all disabled people can realise their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.