Intended for healthcare professionals


Minimising the impact of visual impairment

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 05 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1504

Low vision aids are a simple way of alleviating impairment

  1. Tom H Margrain, Head of low vision clinic and lecturer in optometry
  1. Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF1 3XF

    Visual impairment is responsible for much individual suffering and economic hardship. Magnifying devices and other types of low vision aid can significantly reduce the degree of handicap associated with impaired vision. Two thirds of the people who would benefit from a low vision aid (about 600 000 people in the United Kingdom), however, do not possess one.1 What are the reasons for this disturbing situation?

    Currently about 316 000 people are registered as blind or partially sighted. However, the registers underestimate the number of people with low vision by a factor of three,2 so almost 1 000 000 people in the United Kingdom have untreatable low vision. Community based surveys support this estimate and have shown that around 20% of those aged 75 and over …

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