Sight Loss

Vision loss can affect how you communicate, access information and get around. It can come on gradually as you get older, or as a result of an illness or specific condition.

Here is a brief explanation about the causes and types of sight loss, and the effect it can have.

If you have concerns about your sight, you should visit your GP, optician or ophthalmologist.

What causes vision loss

There are many different reasons why you might experience loss of vision.

It could be something you are born with or that happened as a result of a condition, illness or accident. For many people, it comes on gradually as they get older.

It may be a full or partial loss of sight, temporary or permanent, and it could affect one or both eyes.

Types of vision loss

Congenital vision loss

This is when you are born blind or with a partial vision loss, some causes may be genetic, due to premature birth or infection during pregnancy such as rubella.

Acquired vision loss

This is a term used if a person experiences sight loss later in life. Anyone can lose vision at any time through illness, accident or as a result of ageing.

We all experience a level of sight loss as we get older. This is considered a normal part of ageing. But sometimes the loss is more severe and can't be corrected as easily. This type of sight loss can impact more significantly on our lives and make simple everyday tasks difficult to carry out.

There are many eye conditions that can develop with age such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.

Mixed vision loss

People may have more than one type of vision loss and a congenital loss may be complicated by an acquired loss later in life.

More information about causes of vision loss

There are many organisations that specialise in sight impairment alone, rather than the combination of sight and hearing impairments, as Sense does. More information about specific eye conditions can be found at the following websites:

Eye conditions guide (RNIB)

About glaucoma (International Glaucoma Association)

About macular conditions (The Macular Society)

About retinitis pigmentosa (RP Fighting Blindness)

The effect of vision loss

Sight loss can be challenging, but, with the right support, you can live a full, connected and meaningful life.

Everyday life may be affected, from communicating with other people, accessing information and getting around, to difficulties with tasks such as reading, cooking or using household appliances.

Depending on the cause, type and severity of the sight loss, you may benefit from vision aids such as spectacles, contact lenses and magnifiers. You may also benefit from training in communication tactics, sighted guide techniques, classes to learn braille, or assistive technology such as a screen reader.

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