Vision Impairment Basics with Example Assistive Products

According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment. Statistics from the same year estimate that the world population was 7.753 billion meaning that 1 in 4 persons worldwide have some sort of vision issue. This blog will look at the technical definition of vision impairment, statistics, and products from ILA that can either help make products adaptative for vision issues or merchandise created specifically for the visually impaired.

Definition of Vision Impairment

Vision impairment poses an enormous global financial burden with the annual global costs of productivity losses associated with vision impairment from uncorrected myopia and presbyopia alone estimated to be US$ 244 billion and US$ 25.4 billion.

The same WHO article further states:

The International Classification of Diseases 11 (2018) classifies vision impairment into two groups, distance and near presenting vision impairment. The first set of numbers are in meters with the American approximate equivalent in parentheses.

Distance vision impairment:

  • Mild –visual acuity worse than 6/12 to 6/18 (American 20/39 to 20/59)
  • Moderate –visual acuity worse than 6/18 to 6/60 (American 20/59 to 20/197)
  • Severe –visual acuity worse than 6/60 to 3/60 (American 20/197 to 10/197)
  • Blindness –visual acuity worse than 3/60 (American 10/197)

Near vision impairment:

  • Near visual acuity worse than N6 or M.08 at 40cm.

A person’s experience of vision impairment varies depending upon many different factors. This includes for example, the availability of prevention and treatment interventions, access to vision rehabilitation (including assistive products such as glasses or white canes), and whether the person experiences problems with inaccessible buildings, transport and information.

Vision Impairment Statistics

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has extensive coverage on all things related to eye health. The following statistics come from their Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders page.

  • Approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States have vision impairment, including 1 million who are blind, 3 million who have vision impairment after correction, and 8 million who have vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error.
  • Approximately 6.8% of children younger than 18 years in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition. Nearly 3 percent of children younger than 18 years are blind or visually impaired, defined as having trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that every day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection can lessen the severity or even prevent 90 percent of these eye injuries.
  •  An estimated 93 million adults in the United States are at high risk for serious vision loss, but only half visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months.
  • Vision disability is one of the top 10 disabilities among adults 18 years and older and one of the most prevalent disabling conditions among children.
  • Vision loss causes a substantial social and economic toll for millions of people including significant suffering, disability, loss of productivity, and diminished quality of life.

Eye care and glasses can be expensive. And even if you have health insurance, it may not include vision coverage. The good news is that lots of programs offer help, like free or low-cost eye exams and eyeglasses. If you need financial assistance check out this list of organizations provided by the National Health Institute.

Products to Assist Persons with Vision Impairment

The following are just a few of the many items sold by ILA that help address vision loss and impairment. To find even more products see the full website at ILA.

Photo Phone by Clarity: Simply touch the picture of the person you wish to call and the Photo Phone corded telephone dials the number for you. Since it has 9 easy to program photo-dial buttons as well as the regular alphanumeric buttons it is useful for the entire family. Comes with three designer photo-frames.

Giant Button Affordable Speaker Phone: This convenient phone offers large buttons, 10 two-touch speed dialing, 3 programmable one-touch speed dials, hold button, and a last number re-dial. It also has a two-way speaker phone with volume control for easier hands-free use. Please note this telephone is a corded, landline phone.

KEYS-U-SEE Wireless Large Print Keyboard w/ Mouse: Bigger, bolder print on each key makes them easier to see! The Keys-U-See wireless large print computer keyboard and mouse combination is designed for those who have a hard time seeing the existing letters on the standard keyboard. This user-friendly large print keyboard also has 12 “hot keys” providing easy access to common functions. Wireless functionality means that there are no cords to get tangled on your desk.

Marinoff Low Vision Playing Cards: Designed by the ophthalmologist, Dr. Gerald Marinoff, to enable individuals with vision problems to see the numbers more easily on playing cards. They come with 1.25 inch high numbers. The outstanding feature is the black outline that surrounds the large numbers to make them ‘stand out’.

Big Print Address Book With ILA Low Vision Pen: This spiral bound address book is printed in over 24 point type, making it very easy to see where to write your contact’s name, address and phone numbers. The large alphabet tabs guide you to the section you want. You can record 3 entries per page for a total of 550 contacts. Its laminated hard cover has inside pockets in which to keep stamps or return address labels. Provided with an ila CAN-DO Low Vision Pen.

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