Many of us wear spectacles or contact lenses; it is thanks to these visual aids that we can see normally again. But what to do when this is not sufficient? Any human being can, at any time, be afflicted by a visual impediment. However, visual impairments are especially common in old age. In this article we show what the reasons may be and how both, increased visual aids and the people around them can help those affected.
There is a wide range of different visual impairments which, to a certain extent, are often not recognised at all from an initial external appearance. Close relatives, work colleagues or friends cannot imagine some of the everyday difficulties someone might be challenged by who is suffering from a visual impairment. However, there are many small things that will improve the lives, the level of independence and the capacity of living / working together of those affected.
Every visual impairment has its own individual characteristics and patients report a variety of symptoms: restricted visual field (tubular vision field), visual field loss, sensitivity to blinding light, nocturnal blindness, colour blindness or general stark limitation of visual capability. Even between similar diagnoses, the effects can be very different for those affected.
Visual capabilities as defined by social legislation: In Germany, this is classified by the level of the impairment, using percentages. It dictates which support can be imparted in which stages of development. If, for example, a person can recognise a particular object from a distance of 10m that a normal person could see from a distance of 100m, then for this person the applicable percentage is 10% rather than 100% (Vision = Visual Acuity = 0,1).
A decisive factor for the classification of a particular visual impairment, besides the visual acuity factor, is the extent of the field of vision. So there are the following three different kinds of visual impairment:
Often, visual impairments are brought about by degenerative diseases originating in the retina of the eye:
A tip for gift giving: For relaxation and entertainment, visually impaired patients often really enjoy audio books, now available in either CD format or as an Internet download.
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