More than 2 million people in the UK are living with sight loss that impacts their day-to-day life. Of this number 360,000 are registered with their local authority as sight impaired or severely sight impaired, meaning they have severe and irreversible sight loss.
Visual impairment can affect anyone at any age for a number of different reasons. Older people are more likely to experience sight loss, with one in five people aged 75 and over, and one in two people aged 90 and over living with vision problems. Equally, about 2.5 per cent if people over the age of 75 are living with both visual impairment and dementia. On the other hand, there are almost 25,000 children with sight loss in the UK.
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What is Visual Impairment?
A visual impairment can be defined as any limitation of one or more of the functions of the eye or visual system that impedes vision or visual field and acuity. It is possible to be registered as either sight impaired, which was previously known as “partially sighted”, or severely sight impaired, which was previously termed “blind”.
Visual impairment can occur for a variety of reasons. Beyond age-related macular degeneration, sight loss can be caused by what are considered more general neurological impairments that are not necessarily associated directly with eye conditions, such as stroke, motor neurone disease and Parkinson’s disease, or disorders that are specific to the eye.
It is important to note that the definition of visual impairment is extremely broad and different kinds of visual fields defects can be experienced from one person to the next.
What challenges do people with Visual Impairment face?
While the extent of sight loss can vary vastly from one person to the next, those with visual impairment frequently find it more difficult to use the environment and space around them confidently. The bathroom, in particular, can be a complex space to negotiate if the room has not been installed or modified to cater for the user’s specific needs and usual routines. Typical challenges people with sight loss can experience include:
- Difficulties with orientation.
- Issues with locating items within a room.
- A lack of general confidence, due to fear, to engage independently in activities or areas of occupational performance in the home.