Visual Impairment

Visual Impairment

People with visual impairments have a wide range of abilities and limitations. There are many kinds of visual impairments. People who are described as legally blind may be able to read large print and move about without mobility aids in many or all situations. They may be able to perceive light and darkness, and perhaps some colors.

However, someone who is legally blind may not have any of these skills. The vision of some individuals with impairments may be better one day than another, depending on fatigue and other factors. Environment can also influence an individual's visual abilities. He or she may be able to see better in certain lighting or other conditions. Glare can be a major problem for some people. Glare usually results when too much light bounces off light-colored walls and floors, making it difficult or uncomfortable to navigate a long corridor or around a room. Low-light level conditions result in heavy shadows, making it difficult for some people to perceive hazards such as stairs or changes in floor surfaces.

Some people with congenital visual impairments (impairments present from birth) may have learned skills in reading Braille and tactile orientation guides. However, people who have lost their sight later in life usually have visual memories of color, scale and concepts such as reflections that people who have been blind since birth do not have. Visual impairment may result from disease, defective functioning of various parts of the eye, defects in the shape of the eye, congenital defects, irritation, injury, and accidents.

The leading causes of blindness, in order of incidence, are cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, vascular disease, trauma, and heredity.

Some Statistics:
According to the Department of Social Welfare, its voluntary registration system for persons with disabilities totaled 98,452 as of the end of 2000, out of which there were 13,743 persons (13.96%) who were visually impaired. This compares to approximately 108,000 people as of June 2002 but no break-down by type of disability is available.


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