Visual Impairment

What Is Visual Impairment?

Visual impairment is a condition where a person is unable to see, either partially or completely, due to an eye condition or an eye injury. This condition is a major cause of disabilities, particularly among elderly people. Visual impairment can be categorised into two categories, namely Low Vision and Blindness. Low vision affects a person’s ability to read, write, or use a computer, while blindness is defined as an inability to recognise shapes or objects.

People with visual impairment can lead normal lives with the help of various aids, equipment, and specialised aids. For example, people with low vision may need magnifiers to help them read and write, while those with a complete lack of vision may need white canes or guide dogs to assist them.

Signs and Symptoms of Visual Impairment

The signs and symptoms of visual impairment vary based on the type and severity of the condition. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty reading small print
  • Poor night vision
  • Trouble distinguishing colors
  • Eye strain or fatigue
  • Light sensitivity
  • Reduced peripheral vision
  • Inability to identify shapes

Causes of Visual Impairment

There are several potential causes of visual impairment, including:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which causes a loss of central vision, making it difficult to read or recognise faces
  • Cataracts, which is where the lenses of the eyes become cloudy, resulting in vision loss
  • Diabetic retinopathy, which is caused by diabetes and can lead to blindness
  • Glaucoma, which is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss
  • Retinitis pigmentosa, which is a rare genetic disorder that affects the cells of the retina and leads to blindness
  • Poor nutrition, as some vitamins and minerals play an important role in maintaining good vision

Treatments for Visual Impairment

The treatment for visual impairment will depend on the underlying cause. Some treatments may include:

  • Glasses or contact lenses to correct any refractive errors
  • Medication or surgery to treat eye problems such as cataracts or glaucoma
  • Vitamins and supplements if a lack of certain vitamins and minerals is causing vision problems
  • Low vision aids such as magnifiers or electronic magnifiers
  • Braille or tactile alphabet for those who cannot read print
  • Help from family, friends, and health professionals to manage daily life and activities