Blindness or Partial sight are in each case a sensory loss.
The level of the disability varies widely, and is dependent upon two factors; (a)
the degree of visual loss and (b) the level of compensation achieved by the more
effective use of sensory inflows. It is important to observe that the level of visual
acuity is not directly related to level of handicap. Some totally blind people are
less handicapped than those who are partially sighted, due to the high degree of
compensatory mechanism they are able to employ. On the other hand, the advantage
of even the slightest amount of residual vision cannot be underestimated.
The degree of vision loss varies more widely than is first apparent.
People who are totally blind (with no perception of light) make up about 15% of the
register, those almost totally blind (with perception of light) about 35% and the
completion of the blind register is made up by those with 3/60th acuity. There is
a similar register for the partially sighted, whose visual acuity is of a higher
rating to that already mentioned, but it should be noted that admission to either
register rests on the recommendation of a consultant. The registered partially sighted
population of this country are largely affected by grossly defective vision, rather
than blindness in the generally accepted sense of the word. This is one reason why
there is a growing tendency to use the term "Visually Impaired" to describe those
who are admitted to the registers. The statistics show that 2 out of 3 of those on
the register are over the age of 65. Figures available show there are approximately
150,000 registered blind, and 85,000 partially sighted people in England, Scotland
It is the responsibility of all those involved in the welfare of the blind, of all
ages, to aim for the highest possible level of adjustment to the handicap. Rehabilitation
programmes are geared for all ages, and each has a special place for sport as an
important means for teaching some of the special skills which enable a visually impaired
person to achieve independence. A visual impairment does not normally affect the
fitness of the individual. The exception is retinal detachment where the condition
prevents stooping, jerking of the head or lifting heavy weights for fear of jeopardising
any remaining sight.