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    Vision loss, low vision and legal blindness

    How do you define vision loss, low vision and legal blindness?

    What is vision loss?

    Vision loss is limited or impaired eyesight that can’t be corrected with surgery, conventional glasses or contact lenses.

    Loss of vision is often dismissed as just a natural consequence of getting older. It’s not.

    In fact, vision loss and low vision can happen at any age. For a younger person at school or work, vision loss caused by eye disease or injury can be especially challenging.

    What is low vision?

    There are several definitions of low vision.

    The most commonly used definition in Australia defines low vision as when you can’t see at six metres (with glasses if required) what someone with normal vision can see at 12 metres.

    Low vision often involves a loss of sharpness but may also involve loss of field of vision, light sensitivity, distorted vision, or a loss of contrast.

    The greater the vision loss, the greater the impact on independence and quality of life.

    Low vision can affect anyone and can impact life at home, in the workplace and in society.

    People with low vision may have trouble reading and using the computer, using a phone, watching TV, recognising faces, and doing daily activities such as cooking.

    A number of conditions can lead to vision loss, low vision, and blindness.

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other macular diseases impact central vision, leaving peripheral vision intact. Other eye conditions affect vision in different ways. For example, glaucoma affects peripheral vision, while cataract causes cloudy vision.

    Low vision services are essential in helping anyone with vision loss, regardless of age, cope with the associated challenges.

    What is legal blindness?

    Legal blindness is not black blindness.

    Rather, you are considered legally blind if you can’t see at six metres with both eyes (with glasses if required) what someone with normal vision can see at 60 metres, and/or if your field of vision is less than 20 degrees in diameter in your eye with better vision.

    If you are legally blind, you are also entitled to certain government programs and benefits, including the Blind Pension and public transport subsidies. To access them, you must undergo vision tests with an eye health professional, who then signs a formal declaration.

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