Blindness and vision loss

What is legal blindness?

A person is considered legally blind if they cannot see at six metres what someone with normal vision can see at 60 metres or if their field of vision is less than 20 degrees in diameter.

Government departments use the term 'legally blind' to define a person whose degree of sight loss entitles them to special benefits.

NOTE: Another way to define 20 degrees in diameter is: the field of vision constricted to 10 degrees or less of arc around central fixation. This is the way Centrelink describes it. For further details go to the Centrelink website.

What is low vision?

A person is said to have low vision when they have permanent vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses and affects their daily functioning.

Low vision can affect people of all ages and can have an impact on many aspects of a person's life. It may cause problems with recognising faces, reading the newspaper, dialling the telephone or seeing road signs.

Blindness and low vision in Australia

In 2013 Vision Australia estimates there are 357,000 people in Australia who are blind or have low vision. We project this number will grow to 564,000 by 2030. (Refractive error* not included) 
(Vision Australia estimate is based on ABS population data and ABS Survey of Disability Ageing and Carers).

In Australia only 3% to 5% of print material is available in an accessible format. (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions website).

*Refractive error is a condition of the eye that can generally be treated through the use of prescription glasses.
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