- Disabilities & the Disabled
Blindness, Being a Visually Impaired or Blind Person
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 realized 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.
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 patronize 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.