Low Vision

The Macular Disease Society has changed it's name to the 'Macular Society', their website can be accessed here.

There are several local support groups in Gloucestershire, as below.  Please see the website or contact the helpline for dates/times/locations:  0300 3030 111.

- Gloucester City
- Cheltenham
- Cirencester
- Forest of Dean
- Stroud and District
- (also Hereford)
There is also a support group aimed specifically at younger, working-age people with macular conditions, W@M.  Further information can be found on the website or by calling the helpline 0300 3030 111.
The Macular Society offer a wide range of services including Counselling, Information, Skills for Seeing and Befriending.
Professional membership to the Society is free.

Low vision clinics - hospital service

Low vision clinics are held at Cheltenham General, Gloucestershire Royal, Cirencester and Stroud Hospitals. These clinics are run by hospital optometrists and provide an assessment of visual needs and issue magnifying aids where appropriate. Most optical magnifying aids are provided to patients on a loan basis.  We also provide advice on coping with sight loss and where appropriate may suggest contacting other agencies to request additional training or support such as mobility or eccentric viewing training. 

In order to access these low vision clinics patients need to be referred by their GP or community optometrist, or must already be a patient within the ophthalmology department.

Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLOs)

ECLOs work closely with medical and nursing staff in the eye clinic and the sensory team in social services. They provide those recently diagnosed with an eye condition with the practical and emotional support which they need to understand their diagnosis, deal with their sight loss and maintain their independence.

Gloucestershire ECLO details

Louise Birt: Gloucester - Monday; Cheltenham - Tuesday & Friday

Tel: 07702961060

Email: Louise.birt@rnib.org.uk

Gary Learmonth
Tel: 07925034799
Equipment Repairs

The Hospital low vision clinics are able to repair or replace low visual aid equipment which they supplied originally.  Please telephone the Optometry Department on 0300 422 3190 to explain the problem with the aid – it may be necessary for our secretary to take some contact details so that an optometrist can return your call and sort out your query.  Sometimes replacement parts or small magnifiers can be posted, or alternatively we may ask patients to bring equipment to one of the low vision clinics, see above.

Other agencies providing support to patients with low vision

There are many different organisations throughout the county providing help and support to visually impaired people.  Visually impaired people or their relatives can access help themselves from the appropriate agencies or referrals can be made by optometrists or ophthalmologists

The Letter of Visual Impairment or LVI has now been superseded by the Low Vision Leaflet or LVL. The LVL can be given by optometrists to any patient they feel would benefit from contact with the Sensory Impairment Team at Social Services. The patient can then complete the leaflet and send it to the Sensory Impairment Team themselves. Social services will not be providing copies of the low vision leaflets but they are available to download here as a PDF file.

Optometrists in both community and hospital practice can also make a referral to Social Services using an RVI (Referral of Visual Impairment).  This may be useful for patients that are either not eligible or have declined registration at the present time or who have not seen an ophthalmologist that are struggling with day to day life due to a sight impairment.

Where a patient meets the criteria for registration as Sight Impaired or Severely Sight Impaired the Certificate of Visual Impairment can only be completed by an Ophthalmologist.

Some useful contact details:

Adult Social Care Helpdesk – to contact the Sensory Services Team at Social Services

Telephone:     01452 426868

Website:         www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/socialcarecontacts

Contacting the Helpdesks out of hours:

Outside of office hours (as stated above) you can contact Adult or Children & Families Services Emergency Duty Teams on:  01452 614194.

This is an answering machine and you will need to leave a message and your telephone number. Someone will then call you back. Please remember that this number is only for situations that cannot wait until the next working day.

Insight Gloucestershire (formerly known as GCAB - Gloucestershire County Association for the Blind

Insight Gloucestershire is a charity dedicated to supporting sight impaired and blind people throughout the County. Originally known as Gloucestershire County Association for the Blind (GCAB), the charity was set up in 1858 to help those with failing eyesight. Our Aim is to support people with significant sight loss in Gloucestershire so they can continue to enjoy their lives and retain their independence.

 Our Services

  •  A fully stocked Resource Centre selling (at no profit) daily living aids and assistive technology.
  • “Drop in” Information Points at venues throughout the County.
  • Visiting Advisors who can talk through your concerns in your own home.
  • Information Officers to provide further information on eye conditions and services available for sight impaired people.
  • Quarterly magazine (can be sent to you on CD, in large print or braille).
  • Computer lessons (using specially adapted software).
  • Volunteer visiting service to prevent social isolation.
Telephone:   01242 22  11 70
Visit:               81 Albion Street Cheltenham GL52 2RZ
Website:        www.insight-glos.org.uk
Email:            info@insight-glos.org.uk

ForestSensory Services (formerly the Forge Centre)

Forest Sensory Services is an independent local charity which has established a resource centre for visually impaired people in the Forest of Dean.  As well as offering advice and support on coping with visual impairment they also offer a range of services including:

  • Emotional Support
  • Inter Agency Working
  • Information and Advice
  • Assessments at Home & Work
  • Sensory Loss Advocacy
  • User Groups & Classes
  • Equipment / Training
  • Referrals

For more information:

Telephone:      01594 827711

Website:          HTTP://forestsensoryservices.org

Email:              info@forestsensoryservices.org

Forest Sensory Services, Foxes Bridge Day Centre, Foxes Bridge Road (off Valley Road), Cinderford, Glos, GL14 2LJ


There are around two million people in the UK with sight problems and RNIB (Royal National Institute of the Blind) is the leading charity offering practical support and information to anyone with a sight problem. Our pioneering work helps - not just with braille, Talking Books and computer training but with imaginative and practical solutions to everyday challenges.

For further information visit the RNIB website: www.rnib.org.uk.

Helpline 0303 123 9999