Definition of visual impairment and disability
Visual impairment/disability is a broad term for people with less vision than usual. Visual impairments can vary from person to person and can differ in severity too. However, visual impairment and visual disability are both the same.
Minor visual impairments can often be treated with different treatments like eye drops. However, more severe cases may need invasive action; unfortunately, some can’t be treated.
A visual disability/impairment can’t be treated with glasses or contact lenses. The definition of visual disability/impairment includes people who are completely blind or people with reduced vision.
Some visual impairments/disabilities can be considered invisible or hidden disabilities because it is not apparent to someone else that they have a disability. For example, you wouldn’t know if someone was blind solely based on their appearance unless they told you or were walking with a guide dog.
Some people may be able to receive help with living with the condition.
Visual impairment examples
There are lots of different types of visual impairments/disabilities. They all affect people in different ways and can differ in severity too. Read below for visual impairment examples and how they can impact people.
This visual impairment/disability means that people with it struggle to see at night. This also applies to dimly lit rooms like the cinema. People with this may also have trouble adjusting from bright to dark areas. Night blindness can be helped by prescribing specific glasses or contact lenses for help with night vision.
This is a condition that affects the skin, hair, and eyes. People with albinism have a reduced amount of melanin, which affects their coloring and eyesight. As a result, people with this condition often have light hair color and pale skin.
Albinism can cause poor eyesight, light sensitivity, nystagmus, and a squint. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for poor eyesight, but having glasses can improve vision. Children with this may also need extra support in school.
People with this visual impairment may also find it helpful to wear sunglasses in brightly-lit areas to help with light sensitivity.
This can affect how people see close up or far away. Glasses can be prescribed to help with blurred vision, but they don’t always stop it. Blurred vision can appear in one or both eyes.
Loss of peripheral vision
Peripheral vision is your more expansive field; peripheral vision isn’t straight in front of you but what you can see around you without turning your head. Loss of peripheral vision means you can only see right in front of you. This is sometimes also called ‘tunnel vision.’
Loss of peripheral vision can be caused by glaucoma. This is a group of eye disorders that can damage the optic nerve, which then results in poor vision. Unfortunately, no guaranteed treatments will fix the loss of peripheral vision. Still, if you have glaucoma, you can prevent this from happening by taking medication such as eye drops.
A particular lens type can be fitted on to your glasses to help with peripheral vision loss, but it doesn’t always work.
Loss of central vision
This type of visual impairment/disability causes blurs or blind spots in your vision. It usually starts with a small blind spot that gets bigger over time. Loss of central vision can deteriorate very quickly.
This can be caused by age-related macular degeneration, but it can also be caused by diabetes if the diabetes is left untreated. Macular degeneration can be treated by taking eye drops, which can stop your vision from getting worse.
To prevent loss of central vision caused by diabetes, make sure you control your blood sugar levels and attend diabetic eye-screening appointments. These appointments can pick up on anything wrong early on, so you can start treatment earlier.
This is a condition where the eye moves involuntarily up and down or side to side constantly. Typically, people with this condition can’t see the movement, and others may find it hard to notice. It can result in poor vision, such as not being able to see things far away, and it can get worse when the person is stressed or upset.
People with this visual impairment/disability usually develop it during early childhood, but it can create later on in life. For people who grow it later on in life, it can take a while to get used to because of the constant eye movement you have never experienced before. It can also make it harder to see and make you feel sick and dizzy. However, it is a condition you can live with, and most people can live a whole and independent life.
You may also need longer to read if you have this condition because the constant eye movement can make it difficult to focus on words. Children in school with nystagmus may need extra support, for example, being seated near the front of the class if they can’t see far away or giving them longer to read.
This is the inability to see specific colors. People who are color blind can see some colors, but not all of them. Not being able to see any colors at all is very rare. The most common way to notice color blindness in others is their inability to know the difference between some colors. The most common deficiencies in color blindness are red and green, which can happen with other colors.
Color blindness is a genetic condition that is passed on from parents. However, it can sometimes develop later on in life.
Color blindness is something that can be lived with. However, some children may struggle with certain school activities involving colors. In addition, people who are color blind may also have trouble identifying safety or warning signs because of their color.
There are things you can do to help someone with color blindness. Often settings on computers and phones support you to use them more accessible. There are also some apps you can use to identify different colors. You can also wear tinted glasses that allow you to see colors better; however, these only work for some people.
Signs of Visual Impairments
Now that you know some visual impairment examples read on to find out some signs of visual impairment.
You must know the signs of a visual impairment/disability. If you notice a child with any visible impairment/disability symptoms, you should notify their parents/guardians, so they can get the help they need. Some signs of visual impairments include:
- Their eyes move from side to side or up and down involuntarily. This can get worse if they are upset or concentrating hard. These are signs of Nystagmus.
- They don’t follow objects in front of their face. So, for example, your hands move in front of them.
- They hold objects or text close to their face to see better.
- They squint at objects that are far away from them. This could also cause headaches.
- They might turn or tilt their head to see better.
- They might seem clumsy, e.g., walking into things or tripping over a lot.
- They might not be able to recognize some colors.
- They might react more to bright lights or go from a dimly lit room to a bright one.
- Poor hand-eye coordination
This is not an exhaustive list; if a child has some of these signs, it could be because of something else. However, it is always a good idea to report any concerns to their parents/guardians. Then, if they have a visual impairment/disability that they are unaware of, they can get professional help for the child. Even if it just means wearing glasses, it can make a massive difference to a child’s learning.
There is lots of support for people with visual impairments/disabilities, and some people can live a whole and independent life. However, taking that first step to getting help is essential because it can make a massive difference in your day-to-day life. The same goes for children. If you notice anything out of the ordinary with their eyes or vision, it is essential to help and support them.
Without the proper support, children’s education will suffer. They won’t be able to learn as well as the other children because of the visual barrier that they face. However, with the right help and possibly treatment, they will have every opportunity to learn just like everyone else.
Raising awareness is a great way to support children with visual impairments/disabilities. The more people know about it, the more help can be provided.