Sight loss and blindness



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Sight Loss and Blindness

What is sight loss?

People with sight loss are sometimes known as blind or partially sighted. The more modern term is sight impaired or severely sight impaired. Sight loss can be caused by a variety of conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts, visual cortex disorder, genetic defects or an injury.

Different eye conditions create different difficulties. Few people are totally blind. A few have perception of light only; some have a loss of vision in the centre of their eye, others have no side vision. Some people with sight loss see everything as a blur while others have blank spots. Some have enough vision to read but may have difficulty with night vision. 
Sight loss can make everyday tasks harder but help is available.

If you are having problems with your sight, go to your GP or optician as soon as possible. If necessary, they may refer you to an eye clinic or a consultant ophthalmologist. They will examine your eyes and look at possible treatments for your problem.

Many local opticians will visit you in your home to carry out an eye test. Home visits to carry out an eye test are only available free on the NHS if you are unable to visit a community optometrist on your own. 

Find out more and search for home visit opticians in Hampshire

Equipment to help you

There is a wide range of aids and equipment that can make everyday activities and tasks easier.

  • The RNIB has an online shop with products to help if you are blind or partially sighted.
  • The Living Made Easy website has practical advice on equipment and adaptations if you have sight or hearing loss. Select "Communicating" from the menu at the top.

There are also many apps to help people with sight loss or blindness which you can download to a your smartphone or tablet. For example:

Information and support

Go to our Community Directory to find local and national support. Click on 'Specific needs' and then 'Sight or hearing loss'.

Hampshire County CouncilSouthampton City Council and Portsmouth City Council have teams to help residents with sensory loss. They can carry out assessments and provide training to help you find practical solutions to the everyday problems that arise from sight loss. For example, help with reading, making hot drinks and crossing the road safely.

Sunflower lanyard - assistance for people with hidden disabilities

A sunflower lanyard was introduced at major UK airports in 2018 in order to allow passengers with hidden disabilities to indicate discreetly to staff that they may need additional support or help. The use of the lanyard has now spread and is now available from a number of transport providers. You can pick up a free lanyard at Tesco or M&S.

Books, documents and TV

Books and newspapers

Most libraries have books in large as well as standard print and a range of audio books. Audio described DVDs and a range of audio newspapers and magazines are also available.

Find out more:

Talking Newspapers are available at your library or can be sent to you directly. Find out if your local newspaper is available on audio format.

Also, see our information about apps and technology in the 'Equipment to help you' section above.


You may find it easier to have audio versions (tape or CD), Braille, or large print versions of any documents you receive (for example from your bank or building society). Speak to the organisation that has produced them and ask for the document to be provided in your preferred format.

TV and cinema

If you are struggling to see what is on your television, audio description (AD) can help you. AD is commentary that describes body language, expressions and movements, making the programme clear through sound. Broadcasters (like the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky) must add AD to 20 per cent of their programmes. 
Many cinemas are also equipped with a system that delivers audio description (AD) through a headset, which is provided when you collect your ticket. 

You can find out more from the RNIB.

Useful links


The Macular Society


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