7 misconceptions about low vision

January 12 | 2016

low vision | design by pxlgirl

most resources dealing with visual impairment mostly target blind people, yet there is still a huge number of people who have still have some remaining eyesight. Unfortunately, this group of people is either often overlooked, or lumped in the same category with blind people. Nothing against blind people, but those with low vision do face different things that should be addressed:

1. low vision doesn’t mean “blind”

a lot of sighted people’s concept of visual impairment is either “blind” or “sighted”. They fail to see that there are many shades in-between. Apart from decreasing vision due to ageing, there are also many eye conditions that may or may not lead to blindness.

2. “seeing a little” isn’t the same for everyone

just like in the sighted world, everyone is different. The same thing applies to people with low vision. Even if two individuals share the same eye condition, their experiences will still vary. There are many factors that play a huge role in day-to-day life. Some can be more sensitive to light than others, some can see colors, some don’t, some can navigate easily, some don’t. Do not compare one to other people you’ve heard of, but take individual differences into account instead. If you’d like to see how I see my world, check out .

3. we make mistakes too, just like everyone else

people with low vision often face unrealistic expectations, they are pressured to be more perfect, work at least twice as hard to compensate for their deficit. Any mistake they make can often be blamed on their lack of vision, while normally sighted people can often get away with it. This isn’t exactly fair, as we all are humans and should be allowed to make mistakes, just like everyone else. The only thing that counts how each person deals with it and learns from it, but that’s not related to vision anyway.

4. yes, we too like pretty-looking things

many assume that visually impaired people can’t see the world around them, hence don’t care about appearances and looks at all. This is simply not true. Especially people with low vision cling on to the things they see much more than sighted people, even more so when it pleases the eye. Unfortunately, many organisations dealing with disabilities often ignore this issue and don’t bother about things like aesthetics and design. I have examined this issue in depth in .

5. you aren’t “legally blind” if you don’t wear your glasses

those who wear glasses often describe themselves as “legally blind” when they don’t wear their glasses and can barely see what is in front of them. However , if you put your glasses back on and have 100% vision, you are sighted. We’d be glad to swap with you. People with low vision might wear glasses or contacts, but if their vision can’t be corrected anymore, they are “legally blind”.

6. we might or might not need help sometimes

referring to the misconception of the “blind or sighted” narrative, people often assume that people with low vision always need help, or none at all. Given the fact that each person with low vision is different, each and every one of them has different wants and needs regarding help and support. Some might need guidance at night or help walking down the stairs. Do not push yourself on us, we’ll gladly explain to you how and where you can help.

7. we still can do things that might surprise you

just because we happen to be legally blind, that doesn’t mean we can’t have decent careers. There are lots of computer scientists, photographers or engineers out there. I chose a career in graphic design and I love what I do. The brain is a wonderful thing that can compensate a lot for our vision and we are able to do things that might seem at odds, but once we know our strengths and weaknesses, our judgments can be trusted. Got some more misconceptions? Comment below.

P. S. The image above shows a photograph of my own (messed up) eye

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