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Low Vision, Impairment, Loss and Blindness

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Low Vision and Blindness

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What is low vision?

A person is said to have low vision when they have permanent vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses and affects their daily functioning.

Low vision can affect people of all ages and can have an impact on many aspects of a person’s life. It may cause problems with recognising faces, reading the newspaper, dialling the telephone or seeing road signs.

What is legal blindness?

A person is considered legally blind if they cannot see at six metres what someone with normal vision can see at 60 metres or if their field of vision is less than 20 degrees in diameter.

Government departments use the term 'legally blind' to define a person whose degree of sight loss entitles them to special benefits.

Understanding the most common types of vision loss

There are a number of common eye conditions that can cause blindness and low vision including but not limited to:

  • Age Related Macular Degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinitis pigmentosa



Vision Australia is a leading national provider of blindness and low vision services in Australia and has provided support to over 27,500 people nationally.

For more information, click on the links below:

Orthoptists

Occupational therapists

Technology and training

Mobility specialists

Education and employment support

Emotional support and groups

Aids and equipment

Support for children with low vision or blindness from birth onwards

Specialised services

What is My Aged Care?

The Australian Government has recently made changes to the aged care system. This includes the introduction of My Aged Care which is an initiative that supports older people and their families in accessing aged care information and services.

It is for Australian residents who are

  • over the age of 65; OR
  • over the age of 50, if you identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Through the My Aged Care initiative the Australian Government contributes to the cost of a range of aged care services in Australia. These services include:

  • Help in your own home such as domestic help, meals or nursing care, equipment or modifications to your home like rails or ramps and access to social activities.
  • Short-term help (or respite care) is available for older people and their carers.
  • Ongoing help for people living in aged care homes.
  • There are different types of aged care services to support you, whatever your needs.
  • Let us help you

As a registered provider, Vision Australia fully understands the new system and can:

  1. Answer all your questions about My Aged Care and how it works
  2. Show you how to get the most out of My Aged Care
  3. Help you through the assessment and registration process
  4. Provide you with specialised support services to meet your needs.

More information

Contact us

Contact us early and get the support you need. For more information on Vision Australia’s services call our helpline on O2 9053 4581 or email info@visionaustralia.org. You can also connect with our services here

What is the NDIS? 

The NDIS is the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The NDIS is here to help you achieve your goals and it is focused around enabling you to live your life. Vision Australia can provide support to you throughout every stage of the NDIS process.

How can Vision Australia help?

  1. GETTING YOUR PLAN READY

    Vision Australia can help you work through your requirements so you can know what’s available and get what you need to achieve your goals

  2. NDIS PLANNING SESSION

    You can access whatever level of support you need throughout your NDIS planning process, with access to a Vision Australia staff member at any stage

  3. SELECTING YOUR PROVIDER

    Vision Australia is a registered NDIS provider and the leading organisation for people who are blind or have low vision. They will be there for every step of the NDIS process.

 Learn More

Contact us

Contact us early and get the support you need. For more information on Vision Australia’s services call our helpline on O2 9053 4581 or email info@visionaustralia.org. You can also connect with our services here

Age Related Macular Degeneration

Age related macular degeneration is a degenerative eye condition caused by changes at the back of the eye (retina). It is the leading cause of severe vision impairment in people aged over 40 years in Australia. It is also referred to as AMD or ARMD.

What are the common symptoms?

  • A gradual or sudden decline in the ability to see objects clearly
  • Difficulty reading - that is not improved with new glasses
  • Distorted vision in the central field and difficulty seeing people’s faces clearly
  • Dimming of colour vision
  • Visual hallucinations (see Charles Bonnet Syndrome)

Age Related Macular Degeneration Fact-sheet  

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the clear lens in the eye and is one of the leading causes of vision impairment. While cataracts most commonly occur in those who are older, they can develop in younger people as well. Some people are born with a cataract.

What are the common symptoms?

Early symptoms include glare and sensitivity to bright light. However, as the cataract worsens some of the common signs include:

  • Blurred, hazy and foggy vision
  • Haloes around lights
  • Distortion or double vision in the affected eye
  • A feeling of looking through a film, veil or curtain
  • Changes in the appearance of colours

Cataracts Factsheet 

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes which can damage the tiny blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye. This can cause bleeding and swelling in the retina and seriously affect vision, and in some cases cause blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss in people of working age in Australia.

What are the common symptoms?

There may be no symptoms in the early stages as the damaged areas may only affect the edge of the retina. There may be blurred or distorted vision that makes it difficult to read standard print, watch television or see people’s faces. There may be increased sensitivity to glare and difficulty seeing at night. Peripheral vision may be affected so that driving is no longer possible and there may be an increased risk of falls.

Diabetic Retinopathy Factsheet 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which there is progressive damage to the optic nerve which carries vision information from the eye to the brain.

Glaucoma is often associated with high intraocular pressure (fluid pressure inside the eye) resulting from a problem with the drainage system of the eye.

Early detection and treatment are crucial to minimise vision loss.

As the disease progresses, symptoms may include:

  • Painless blurred vision
  • Difficulty adjusting to low light
  • Poor vision in dim light which may lead to falls or a loss of confidence
  • If untreated the continued loss of peripheral vision can lead to tunnel vision or blindness.

Glaucoma factsheet 

Retinitis pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic eye condition that causes cells in the light-sensitive retina, located at the back of the eye, to degenerate slowly and progressively. The condition can vary greatly.

While many people with RP retain limited vision throughout their lives, others will lose their sight completely.

What are the common symptoms?

Generally, symptoms develop between the ages of 10 and 30 years. Some of the first symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty seeing at night (night-blindness) or in dimly lit areas
  • A narrowing field of vision
  • Light and glare sensitivity

Retinitis pigmentosa 

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