Humans are social animals and we live in a society where an individual’s identity is dependent on the people’s perception of them to an extent. So, we adapt to and live our lives based on direct and indirect feedback received from our family, friends and community. However, when it comes to people who are blind or have low vision, it is important to be sensitive towards such patients while giving feedback. There are unfortunately a lot of misconceptions around visual impaired individuals.
For instance, a child with macular dystrophy has blurry vision or distorted vision and can often progress to vision loss. Children with such eye disease can hardly read anything written on the blackboard. Further, these patients have normal appearing eyes, which is unlike the blindisms i.e. characteristic and repetitive behaviour of blind people. Visually impaired individuals rely on auditory cues (receiving signs through listening) more.
The visually impaired people are not as homogenous as the society may perceive it. The whole spectrum of impairment limits different aspect of vision. Let us understand these terms.
World Health Organization (WHO) has defined vision impairment as the condition including the range from partial sight to blindness.
A person is considered blind when the best corrected vision in the better eye is less than or equal to 6/60 and corresponding visual field is less than 20 degrees or worse from fixation point.
A Low Vision is defined as Visual acuity that is between 6/18 and 6/60 in the better eye after the best possible correction or corresponding visual field of more than 20 degrees and upto 40 degree from fixation point.
Complete Blindness is referred to as total loss of vision. There are many diseases that can cause complete blindness. These may be present either by birth or may develop later in life. India is becoming hub of diabetic patients, which causes diabetic retinopathy resulting in retinal damage. Thus, diabetes is also now a leading cause of blindness besides cataract and glaucoma.
Night blindness is also known as Nyctalopia, which is, derived from Greek word that literally means inability to see at night. This type of vision impairment can also be present under dim light conditions. People with night blindness may have impaired vision but do not have total blindness. People with night blindness often have difficulty driving at night or seeing stars.
The most common and popular cause of Night blindness is a retinal disorder called retinitis pigmentosa. This is due to defect in those retinal cells that allow us to see properly in poor light. Besides this, there are also other factors that causes Nyctalopia that includes Vitamin A deficiency, glaucoma, glaucoma medicines, diabetes, cataracts, birth defects etc.
People with color blindness have inability to differentiate few colors. This is due to a defect in one of gene in X chromosome, hence more than females, males are affected with this type of visual impairment. Further, defect in retinal cells or optic nerve can also induce some form of color blindness is inherited one. Currently there is no treatment for the same, however, to enhance brightness between colors, certain contact lenses can be used. It is better to consult an eye doctor or eye care professional before reaching any decision.
Often vision impairment starts with many other signs and symptoms which if detected and treated at the right time may prevent blindness.
Some of the common signs and symptoms that should not be ignored are
- Cloudy/Hazy/Blurry vision
- Eye pain
- Eye injury
- Red eyes
- Constant uneasiness in the eyes
- Discomfort due to Contact Lenses use
- Flashing Lights, Floaters in Your Vision
- Sudden transient Vision Loss