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Vision Loss

People who are vision impaired include those who are blind, and those who have vision significantly less than normal (which is usually accepted as visual acuity less than 6/18).

Young boy reading, whilst having his eyes tested


Statistics on Vision Loss
•    Only about 5% of people with vision impairment are totally blind
•    By 2020 there will be a 39% increase in the number of Australians living with blindness or vision loss
•    90% of the world’s people who are blind or vision impaired live in developing countries
•    Two thirds of the developed world’s people who are vision impaired are women
•    The 4 major causes of vision loss are macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma and cataract.

Find out more on the types of vision loss here: ‘

The terms “low vision” and “vision impairment” are used for less severe cases of vision loss, whereby an individual can be assisted with devices and vision aids. There may also be, in some of these cases a significant reduction in vision, including blindness.

The term blindness is only used in cases of complete vision loss and for circumstances where the individual must rely solely on vision substitution skills.

One of the limiting factors in determining measures of vision loss is that they are measured objectively via visual acuity tests, which do not take into account the persons vision quality in daily living. This means than many important factors of assessing vision functionality are overlooked.

In summary, individuals with vision impairment can range considerably and there are currently a number of issues surrounding defining terminology. The term legal blindness is well defined, however other terms connected with vision impairment are yet to establish the same consistency.

What Rehabilitation and Community Support is Available?

Services that support individuals who are blind or have low vision are available in all states of Australia. Support groups offer a safe, comforting environment to share ideas and experiences.

For an assessment or to seek assistance, your optometrist can refer you to local support groups whereby you can connect with others in a similar situation. Optometrists can also assist in directing individuals on how to go about obtaining benefits and pensions to assist with daily living.

Many optometrists also specialise in prescribing complex or high-level optical devices.

For more information on low vision support, services and adaptive technology go to: