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RESEARCH STUDY

RESEARCH

Vision Impairment and Handicap: The RVIB Employment Survey

AUTHOR:

Suzie E. Wright

SPONSOR/INSTITUTION:

The Steering Committee for the RVIB Employment Survey

YEAR PUBLISHED:

1999

PUBLICATION:

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Ophthalmology

KEY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Participants were interviewed for the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind Employment Survey, and asked to self-report whether totally blind or not (vision impaired).

  • The research revealed that difficulty associated with everyday tasks was greater than might be expected from self-report of vision.

  • This study confirms the need for visual function tools to supplement the use of objective visual acuity measurements in people with vision impairment.

SUMMARY

The purpose of this study was to examine the association between type of vision impairment and disability and the handicap or impact of vision loss on functioning.

Participants were interviewed for the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind Employment Survey, and asked to self-report whether totally blind or not (vision impaired). Causes of visual impairment were also reported.


Eyesight was rated on a scale from 0 (completely blind) to 10 (best possible eyesight). Difficulty with mobility, personal care, household activities, work and hobbies and social interactions were also rated. Participants with vision impairment also rated their level of disability in reading and seeing other people’s reactions using the same scale.


Of the 250 participants, 39 self-reported total blindness. Participants with vision impairment experienced greater levels of difficulty in almost all areas than people who self-reported total blindness. People with vision impairment due to glaucoma and macular degeneration reported significantly more difficulty with reading newspapers, while there was a borderline significant relationship between difficulty with seeing people’s reactions and macular degeneration.


The research revealed that difficulty associated with everyday tasks was greater than might be expected from self-report of vision. This study confirms the need for visual function tools to supplement the use of objective visual acuity measurements in people with vision impairment.