Who - People with a visual impairment
In 2010 there were more than 300,000 people with visual impairment in both eyes in the Netherlands. Even with glasses, their visual acuity is less than 30%. About a quarter of these people are blind. You are blind if your visual acuity is less than 5%. Some have been blind since birth. With others, vision has deteriorated over the course of their lives. Three-quarters of people with a visual impairment are visually impaired (visual acuity between 30 and 5%; sometimes their field of vision is also limited). The number of visually impaired and blind people is increasing, mainly due to diabetes.
About 85% of the visual impairments occur in the elderly; more among women than among men. Almost half of the residents of care and nursing homes are visually impaired or blind. Approximately 20% of people with an intellectual disability are also visually impaired or blind. A visual impairment is also common in people with multiple disabilities. A special group is the group of people with a combination of low vision and hearing impairment. One in thirteen people over 85 in a care home has this double restriction. In nursing homes that is even one in five. The combination of low vision and hearing impairment causes many limitations in social life.
The main causes of visual impairment in the Netherlands are shown in the table below. More than half of the visually impaired and blindness in the Netherlands can be prevented or treated.
Causes of low vision
|Causes of low vision||Number of people|
|Hyperopia and myopia||70.000|
|Age-related macular degeneration||70.000|
|Retinal abnormalities due to diabetes (diabetic retinopathy)||20.000|
|High eye pressure (glaucoma)||13.000|
What do visually impaired people see?
Many visually impaired see out of focus. Sometimes everything is out of focus, sometimes certain parts are vague (stains). Others see little color, everything looks gray. Still others suffer from glitters and flashes. Still others see poorly in (bright) light.
Sometimes the visually impaired see only a small part of the space; as if they are looking through a tube, so small. After a stroke, people sometimes do not see the entire left half or right half of the room (limiting vision). In short, you cannot say anything general about what visually impaired people see. With the Bartiméus seeing app you can get an impression of what visually impaired people see (https://www.accessibility.nl/projecten-en-publicaties/mobiele-apps/zienapp).
Health problems and lifestyle
The cause of the visual impairment can sometimes cause other health problems. Think of diabetes. In addition, visual impairment can influence health, for example because the visual impairment makes it difficult to exercise or to exercise sufficiently. Obesity may then arise. Accidents (falling, bumping into something) can also be the result.