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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 Living Made Easy website has practical advice on equipment and adaptations if you have sight or hearing loss.
AskSara has ideas and products which may be useful for anyone with sight loss.

Information and support

See our Community Directory listings for local and national support available for people with sight or hearing loss..

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) offers information, services and support for people with sight loss.
The Partially Sighted Society can help you to make the most of your remaining sight.
The Macular Society has information and local support groups for people who have been diagnosed with age related macular degeneration.
Open Sight provides advice and information, home visits and phone support in Hampshire.
Hampshire County Council has specialist Sensory Loss teams. 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.
Hampshire County Council has a duty under S.77 Care Act 2014 to maintain a register of people with sight or severe sight impairment who are ordinarily resident in its area.

Books, documents and TV

Books and newspapers

Every Hampshire Library has a selection of 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.

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.

Documents

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, building society etc). 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.

Last reviewed: 21/04/2016

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