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Blindness, being a visually impaired or blind person

Updated on July 20, 2014

Having started to lose my eyesight a few years ago the thought of blindness is something I have given plenty of thought to. My eyesight deteriorated considerably and then I was told I had developed cataracts.

Thankfully, currently in the UK, the NHS waiting list for cataract surgery is short. After being referred, by my optician, in December 2009 I have already undergone cataract surgery on both eyes and it is only 4th May 2010, at time of writing.

With my eyesight restored, almost to perfection, I am already noticing how much brighter colours are. It is wonderful to stand at a bus stop, not wearing glasses, and know exactly what number bus is approaching. I have also received a couple of compliments by people who had not realised how deep brown my eyes were. I guess for quite a while they have been a little cloudy looking.

Still none of this compares to being partially sighted or blind.

Learning to get about
Learning to get about
A child may have been born blind.
A child may have been born blind.

In the western world blindness is not as big a problem as in Third World and developing countries. It is still more common than one would hope in the 21st Century.

At least nowadays many eye conditions can be successfully treat or managed. Eye surgery has come a long way and microsurgery is common practice. Laser treatments also offer good results in the treatment of many eye problems.

Here are a few worrying facts about sight impairment:

  • Out of all the blind people in the world about 90% will reside in one of the developing countries.
  • It is estimated that around 37 million people around the world are blind.
  • These figures include young, old, babies and children.
  • It is thought that a massive 161 million people have some sort of sight impairment.
  • Staggeringly about 7 million people go blind each year.
  • Every 5 seconds, someone, somewhere in the world will go blind
  • Every minute a child will go blind

These dreadful facts and more were researched at Sight savers International.

Yet as I have already said the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis are usually so much better than they used to be.

Spare a thought though for those who are blind.

Imagine a world with no colours, no faces, no scenery, no art, just darkness. Faced with that alternative most of us would be terrified. What choice does someone who loses their sight have, though? It is a case of fighting to survive. There would be no time to sit around wallowing in self pity. There would be so much to re-learn. How to cross a road, how to get about, how to choose your clothes each day, how to cook a meal and how to survive. It must be a terrifying prospect when you become blind. What about a person who has been blind from birth?

Survival is one thing but having a fulfilled, happy life is another.

Becoming blind must be one of the worst disabilities, and there are many dreadful ones. For those who are hearing impaired also it must be dreadful. Conversation, listening to music, watching the TV and so much more would be nigh on impossible.

All too many of us walk by a blind person walking along tapping a white stick, with barely a second glance. If you consider how high the chances are that it might be you, perhaps we would notice more. Blindness must be so lonely at times.

No person with a disability wants sympathy or attention but rather they want to live their life and be independent. Offering an arm as a blind person is about to cross a road though, is a common courtesy and might be greatly appreciated.


  • Never suddenly speak loudly to a blind person in the street. You might half frighten him or her to death.
  • Offer to help but never force yourself upon someone.
  • If your offer of help, to cross the road, for example, is accepted slow the pace down. Gently hold the person's elbow, or lower arm, so that you can act as a guide.
  • Do not grab someone roughly.
  • Never patronise or talk down to any person with a disability.

Being partially sighted may be a better option but it is still no what people would choose. Viewing just a small part of the world or seemingly through a haze will be miserable.

With life expectancy increasing perhaps the chances of blindness will increase. Despite the excellent surgical procedures available currently some sight loss seems almost inevitable with age. For most of us though treatment will be available to prevent or cure blindness.

There are so many other blind people around the world who need our help. Check out the charities listed and see if you are able to help in anyway.

No-one can ever deny that being blind is terrible but does it have to be such a huge problem?


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    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi ethel great hub,i have just gone through the same thing has you have. I am now finding how bright colors and everything is. even though there is no waiting list here in the U.S. i wish it had gone a little faster because my eyesight was really doing downhill very quickly . Is it not awesome to be able to see good again ?

      awesome and vote up !!!

    • profile image

      Annie 7 years ago

      I was using this for a report and found a lot of the information very helpful. Thank you!

    • profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      Hi im a student doing a social studies PLC course and doing a project on the blind focusing on children would be grateful if a parent of a blind child could answer a short questionaire (email;


    • Galvez profile image

      Galvez 7 years ago

      The good news is that there are more and more devices that can help those with limited vision. Unfortunately, many companies are not willing to promote the use of these devises for those with limited vision, or the items are such hot sellers, that those with limited vision may wait months before having the opportunity to purchase these items.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      So very true Jo. We should count our blessings

    • Jo Woodward profile image

      Jo Woodward 7 years ago from Staffordshire, England

      It's a reminder to be grateful we have access to medicines and treatments that millions of people around the world don't have.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Well said vox. After disabilities can strike people at any age

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 7 years ago

      Sorry to read all the worrying facts about blindness that you´ve listed, but glad you are getting better after your surgery. Of course, nobody normal would look down on the disabled people. Some people I know take their perfectly healthy children to a kindergarten for the disabled, to teach them how to live together as equals. I also have two friends who own their private kindergartens and accept disabled children (if it is not a severe disability) along with healthy kids. This is an advantage for both, healthy and disabled children!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      And for you loveofthenight.

      Katie that is so sweet

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 7 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      all that you want for yourself, i want it for you twice as well

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Ethel, I came back to review this again, the blindness being visually impaired hub is helpful and wanted to thank you again for researching and creating this report! Thanks and Peace :)

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks yo all for visiting and the kind comments re my surgery.

      Lori I too think that blidness must be a difficult challenge to say the least. Princessa how wonderful for your grandmother who will now be able to enjoy a book again and so much more.

      We all take our senses far too much for granted I guess.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a well written hub about something awful. I absolutely admire these people how they cope. It is unbelievable. Thank goodness you are getting better.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 7 years ago from France

      Good to hear that you recovered your sight Ethel. My grandmother is in her 80s and she just had cataract surgery. For her nothing could be worst than not being able to see, like you said becoming blind must be one of the worst disabilities.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I'm so glad you got to have the surgery! I can't imagine living without sight.

    • cupid51 profile image

      cupid51 7 years ago from INDIA

      I am glad that you have come out from the partial blindness! Really it is difficult for others to imagine the difficulty being faced by a person having any sort of disabilities. A really great hub!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I found something complete about blindness here. Congratulation for you who have succeed for cataract surgery. I think the world would be colorful. Now you can see the beautiful color. I always say thank you because you give wonderful tips what can we do for the blind person around us. Good work, I really enjoy read this hub. I hope this useful for us.

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      This is also a concern of mine. Without my glasses I don't see very far, but I'm grateful I have them to help. Very informative.

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 7 years ago from Texas

      Ethel, I am so glad you were able to get your surgery and recover your sight. I agree with you that living sightless must be lonely and frightening at times. You wrote an informative and inspirational story. Thank you.

    • profile image

      loriamoore 7 years ago

      Glad you were able to have your eye surgery so quickly. I've often had that thought - you know - "If I had to lose a sense, which one would be best?" kind of thing and I would miss eyesight so much.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Katie how awful for him. As you say though it is all about a state of mind I guess. Thanx

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      ethel,Good to hear your moving toward improvement. My oldest brother lost his eye sight to OHP a few years ago and he is a young man. It is amazing how he's approached life. He inspires me. Thanks and Peace :)

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Billy. Yes me too. IT should not be that way in this day and age. should it?

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Firstly I am glad your eyes have continued to improve since your cataract surgery Ethel. An excellent hub - I was taken back by the stat that a child goes blind every minute.