Guide 2: What are some of the impacts of sight loss?

" Some people are born with an eye condition. More commonly sight loss develops during older age. Although most people have some sight, some experience further loss of vision over time and others have no useful vision.

Major impacts of sight loss include:

  • Children and young people: the majority of blind and partially sighted children are educated in inclusive (mainstream education. But blind and partially sighted children are increasingly being deprived of specialist support, and learning materials and exams are not consistently made available in alternative formats.
  • Remaining sight can change over time: for example, 71 per cent of blind and partially-sighted people have experienced deterioration in their sight over the last 12 months.
  • Feelings of wellbeing are lower among blind and partially sighted people when compared to the rest of the population.
  • Lack of emotional support: only 17 per cent of people experiencing sight loss are offered emotional support in relation to their deteriorating vision.
  • Essential practical support is missing.
  • Relying on some form of support: many blind and partially sighted people rely on some form of support or care, and often this is informal and unpaid. This support can range from tasks like preparing meals or cleaning to help with setting heating controls or help with picking out the right clothing. Nearly half of blind and partially sighted people said that they always or frequently need support to read written information.
  • Financial struggles.
  • Travel and transport: four out of every ten blind and partially-sighted people were not able to make all the journeys that they wanted or needed to make.
  • Feeling isolated from the people and things around them.
  • Limited choice about how to spend free time.
  • Poor access to key information: nine out of ten blind and partially sighted people said that information on medication or food packaging was quite difficult or impossible to read.
  • Barriers to getting the most out of technology: there is a significant generational divide in the use of technology, with younger blind and partially sighted people much more likely to be using the internet, a computer or a smartphone compared to older people. Overall, less than one in three blind and partially sighted people feel able to make the most of new technology.
  • Public awareness and attitudes towards sight loss is poor.
  • Sight loss is the biggest barrier people face.

Further information, and links to references with other data, are available from:

Eye health and sight loss stats and facts, RNIB, 2018

Key information and statistics on sight loss in the UK, RNIB, 2018