Sight loss and visual impairment

What is sight loss?

Sight plays an important part in our daily lives.  It is a means by which we gain information and knowledge and it contributes towards our ability to communicate with each other.  It facilitates our mobility and enables us to carry out a wide range of activities which we regard as ordinary and take for granted.

Sight loss, sometimes called visual impairment, can present problems in every aspect of life.  It may become increasingly difficult to cope at home or at work.  Independence and mobility are reduced.  Self-confidence can be affected and relationships with family and friends can become strained, leading to further stress and anxiety.

A slow deterioration in sight may seem inevitable for many of us as we get older. Some people experience a much more significant loss of sight, either from birth or at some point during their lives.

More serious loss of sight can happen as the result of accidents, or from a variety of medical conditions. The most common conditions are:

  • macular degeneration – tends to affect older adults and results in a loss of vision in the centre of the visual field. For more information contact the Macular Society
  • glaucoma - affects about two out of every 100 people in the UK who are over 40. If left untreated it can cause blindness. However if it's diagnosed and treated early enough, damage to your vision can be prevented
  • cataracts - a cataract is a clouding of part of the eye - vision becomes blurred because the cataract is like a frosted glass.
  • diabetic retinopathy - a common complication of diabetes
  • retinitis pigmentosa (RP) – this is a name given to a diverse group of inherited eye disorders. These eye conditions affect a part of your eye called the retina

For more information visit the RNIB  (link opens in new window)website or go to the NHS Choices (link opens in new window) site.

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