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Visual Impairment

What is a Visual impairment 

People with visual impairments 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

Many people who live with sight impairment experience different levels of sight loss. Some people are only able to determine lights or shapes, while others may experience blurred vision. Another effect of sight impairment is having no sight in the centre of the eye or no side vision.

Some people may have some useful sight but may find it difficult at night. It is uncommon for someone to have no vision at all even if the person is registered blind.

Eye strain and headaches are also a common side effect of living with sight impairment.

Find out more about blindness and sight loss here 

First Steps to getting Sight Loss

Getting an eye test

It is estimated that 50 per cent of sight loss could be avoided. One simple thing you can do is get an eye test. In some cases your sight could be improved simply by different glasses or cataract surgery.

If you feel you are having problems with your sight you should go to your GP or optician as soon as possible.You may be referred to an eye clinic or ophthalmologist (a specialist in eyes). They examine your eyes and determine if there are any possible treatments for your condition.

Registering as disabled

If you have sight loss, you may be able to register as disabled. You will need to see an ophthalmologist for an assessment and they will then issue you with a Certificate of Vision Impairment.

More information on Registering as disabled

Living with sight impairment can make life more complex, however, you can get support from various national and local organisations. You could also get equipment to meet your visual needs.

Hull Sensory team

The Hull Sensory team can arrange for you to have a disability assessment.
Your assessment helps the Sensory team understand how they can help you live safely and independently in your own home.

This can include advice and support on –

  • equipment and adaptations
  • alternative techniques to carrying out daily living tasks
  • registering as disabled
  • long cane and orientation
  • mobility training for people with sight impairments

You can contact the Sensory support team via –

  • email - sensory.team@hullcc.gov.uk
  • telephone - 01482 318 700
  • text service - 07810 503 530
  • type talk service / Mincom - 18001 01482 318 700

Sight Support

Formally known as Herib, Sight Support has been supporting local people with sight loss since 1864.

For over 150 years, Sight Support has been helping people across Hull and East Yorkshire with visual impairments to live full, active and happy lives.

Visit the Sight Support website to find out more

Alternatively, you can contact them via -

in person -

Sight Support

Beech Holme

Beverley Road

Hull

HU5 1NF 

Equipment and adaptations 

Magnifying aids, low vision aids, spectacle mounted aids

The Eye Hospital supplies magnifiers, low vision aids and spectacle mounted aids

You can contact them at - 

Low Vision Aids Clinic

Eye Hospital

Fountain Street

Hull

HU3 2JZ

telephone: 01482 816 681

Alternative formats

You may find it easier to have documents in alterative formats.
Alternative formats can include -

  • audio versions such as tape or CD
  • Braille
  • large print

Documents such as bills, bank statements and letters from GP’s as well as general information can be made available to you in these formats.

You should contact the organisation that has produced the information and request for the document to be provided in your preferred format.

TV

If you are blind (severely sight impaired) and can provide the appropriate evidence, you are eligible to apply for a 50 per cent concession.

More on TV licensing here

Audio description

Audio description is commentary that describes body language, expressions and movements, making the programme clear through sound. It sets the scene so you can clearly track what is taking place.

This service is available on -

  • TV
  • cinema
  • sports events
  • theatres

Find out more about audio description here

Using technology

There are many ways that technology can help you stay connected and independent if you have sight loss. Computers screens can be adapted to make them easier to read or to talk aloud; books are available in different formats such as large print, braille and audio; television programmes can be audio-described so that you hear what is happening on screen; and talking phones or phones with large buttons may be easier to use if you can’t see well.

You can find out about how technology can help you and how to adapt existing technology to make it more accessible, on via –

BBC’s My web my way website

RNIB’s Information for everyday living pages

Organisations that offer support

Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RINIB) is the largest charity for people with sight loss. You can find lots of useful information around sight loss, along with practical support.

Visit the RNIB website

Alternatively – you can contact them via –

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association provides guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services to meet the needs of blind and sight impaired people.

Visit the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association website to find out more

Alternatively you can contact them via –

The Macular Disease Society

The Macular Disease Society is a charity for people with macular disease, offering support, advice and information.

Visit the Macular Disease Society website

Alternatively you can contact their Hull group by telephone on  01482 656 714 or 01430 422 905
Other support

Last reviewed: 02/02/2018