Everything You Need To Know About Visual Impairment

Visual impairment severely limits those who suffer from it. Although it is a very common problem all over the world, there are many technological aids today.
Everything you need to know about visual impairment

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), blindness and visual impairment affect at least 2.2 billion people worldwide. Of these, 1 billion have a preventable visual disturbance, or one that has not yet been addressed. In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about visual impairment.

The organization also points out that this condition more often affects people in low- and middle-income countries, women, older adults and ethnic minorities. This confirms the link between this problem and the difficulty or impossibility of accessing an adequate approach in a timely manner.

What is visual impairment?

There is no absolute agreement on the concept of visual impairment. This is because there are differences in the limit that separates the disability from the disability. Still, one of the most popular definitions is the one we want to share with you below.

We must note that the term “visual impairment” should be used in general for both people who are totally blind and those with significant disabilities. Thus, it is a concept that covers all types of serious visual problems, regardless of what causes it.

In this connection, the concept is supplemented by noting that the said problem must generate limitations for performing certain activities, such as reading, writing and orientation and mobility. In turn, blindness is any form of severe visual impairment without implying a total absence of vision.

A blind person walking with a cane.
Blindness is a condition that makes everyday life difficult. Today, however, people affected by it have more help.

What are the causes?

The main causes of visual impairment and blindness are cataracts, ametropia, trachoma, river blindness, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. Below we explain them in detail:

  • Cataracts. It is considered as the leading cause of blindness in the world. Experts estimate that this condition accounts for 43% of cases, and that it is due to loss of lens transparency.
  • Diabetic retinopathy. It is the main cause of vision loss in developed countries. It is common in those who do not control blood sugar levels. It leads to progressive blindness due to small bleeding in the eye.
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The second cause of visual impairment in developed countries. It initially causes blurred central vision. However, if it develops, it can lead to blindness.
  • Glaucoma. It accounts for about 15% of cases of visual impairment in the world. It leads to loss of peripheral vision due to increased pressure in the eye.
  • Trakom. An infection that affects both eyes. It is the main cause of infectious blindness. It is more common in developing countries.
  • Ametropia. The various forms include myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. It is the inability of the eye to focus properly on the objects on the retina due to a disproportion between the length of the eye and the power of the eye.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa. This condition affects peripheral vision and the ability to see in the dark. It includes several chronic genetic eye diseases.

Discovery of, degrees and types of visual impairment

Vision problems are detected at a check-up by an optician or ophthalmologist. Similarly, you should see a professional if you have difficulty reading, looking closely or far away, or see pictures clearly or if you have conjunctivitis or discharge from the eye.

There are four degrees of visual impairment, based on the sharpness of the person’s eyeballs:

  • Mild: Less than 50% visual acuity
  • Moderate: Less than 33% visual acuity
  • Severe: Less than 10% visual acuity
  • Blindness: When the values ​​recorded in the eye examination are less than 1%

On the other hand, from a functional and often legal point of view, the classification is as follows:

  • Partial: When one eye is severely affected or both eyes are partially affected.
  • Total: Even with vision loss in both eyes, visual acuity of 0.1% or more is achieved.
  • Absolute: If the visual acuity does not exceed 0.1%.
A blind person reading in Braille.
Braille is invaluable to blind people.

The needs of a person with a visual impairment

Fortunately, a person with a visual impairment can use various aids to better cope with the condition. For orientation and mobility outside their home, they can resort to white sticks, guide dogs and currently technological tools such as GPS with apps for those with vision problems.

To visualize objects, and depending on the degree of visual impairment, it is a good idea for these patients to help themselves with stronger lighting or with devices that have enlarged fonts, magnifying glasses and powerful glasses. If a person is blind, Braille is a very effective reading method.

For obvious reasons, the person needs to adapt the home to their visual conditions. In the same way, there are increasingly effective active aids today, such as augmented reality viewers and smart glasses for the blind.

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