SESSION ONE

What is sight loss?

Objective

To learn that there are many different types of sight loss!

To realise the scale of sight loss in the UK!

To understand how difficult everyday activities can be!

 

Useful resources

Glasses or blind folds – cling film

Information about eye conditions – see RNIB

 

Sight loss facts and figures

The leading causes of sight loss amongst registered blind and partially sighted people are:

  • Age-related macular degeneration – 48 per cent
  • Glaucoma – 16 per cent
  • Cataract – 12 per cent
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa – 10 per cent
  • Diabetic eye disease – 8 per cent

An estimated 285 million people are living with sight loss worldwide, with 39 million people who are blind and 246 million people who are partially sighted. Globally, the leading causes of sight loss are uncorrected refractive error and cataract. In the UK 250 people are told that they are losing their sight every day. The RNIB reports that there are approximately two million people currently living with sight loss, with that number set to double by 2050. The older you are, the greater your risk of sight loss.

The proportion of people living with sight loss is:

  • one in nine people aged 60 years and over
  • one in five people aged 75 years and over
  • one in two people aged 90 years and over

Feelings of wellbeing are lower amongst blind and partially sighted people when compared to the rest of the population. More than four in ten people attending low vision clinics are suffering from symptoms of clinical depression. 31 per cent of blind and partially sighted people were rarely or never optimistic about the future. Being told you are losing your sight can be difficult to come to terms with, with common effects being depression, reduced wellbeing and a process similar to bereavement. Only 17 per cent of people experiencing sight loss are offered emotional support in relation to their deteriorating vision.

Nearly half of blind and partially sighted people of working age said they had been treated unfairly by others in the last 12 months due to their sight loss. When people are asked to talk about the reasons why they experience difficulty or restrictions, whether in relation to travel, employment, technology, or leisure, by far the most common reason given is their sight loss. Many people, including those with a range of other challenges and impairments, consider sight loss as the major factor in stopping them from doing all the things they would like to do in life.

Practical activities

Use your own glasses, or borrow a pair, and wrap the lenses in creased cling film. The more creased up the cling film is, the more difficult it will be to see clearly. You can also use an eye mask or blind fold then try the four practical exercises below.

Please do not attempt anything that could be dangerous.

Exercise 1: Identifying money

You will need:

  • Money: coins of different values as well as notes if possible
  • your glasses or eye masks

Now with your glasses, or eye mask, on:

  1. Empty the money onto a table, or a tray.
  2. Give someone, or see if you can find a £1 coin. Try this again with various amounts, such as £5.34 or 21p.
  3. Now put the money in your pocket and try again.
  4. Have someone hand you some money and see if you can tell how much it is.

Exercise 2: Reading

You will need:

  • Books
  • your modified glasses or eye mask

Now with your glasses, or eye mask, on:

  1. Try to read.

Exercise 3: Writing

You will need:

  • Paper
  • a variety of different pens
  • your modified glasses or eye mask

Now:

  1. Put on your modified glasses.
  2. Try to write a sentence.
  3. Try different pens to see if it makes a difference.

Exercise 4: Pouring liquids

You will need:

  • A jug of cold water and a glass or beaker(please do NOT try this with hot liquids)
  • A tea towel in case you make a mess
  • Your modified glasses or eye mask

Now:

  1. Put on your modified glasses or eye mask.
  2. Fill up the glass, or beaker.
  3. Drink from the glass, or beaker.
  4. Fill the glass, or beaker, to a specific point. (maybe half way, or stop at a point as if you were making a cup of tea and wanted to add milk)

Discussion/reflection

We appreciate that some of these activities would have seemed like fun and we hope that there has been some laughter as you have tried to do things without your normal sight. This is all fine but now it would be good to spend a little bit of time considering, and discussing, an individual who is losing their sight.

  • How do you think it might affect an elderly person living on their own?
  • How do you think it would affect a mother with young children?
  • How do you think it would affect a young person at school?