FAQ - About vision loss
As you might imagine, vision loss can be devastating. Many people who are newly diagnosed even suffer from serious depression. Seemingly ordinary, everyday activities such as traveling to familiar and unfamiliar places, caring for a child or an ailing parent, reading a newspaper and succeeding at work can all present extraordinary challenges. Family relationships may become strained. And without assistance in adjusting to vision loss, many people (particularly seniors) may live in isolation and fear.
But with the support and expertise of an organization such as CNIB, people with vision loss learn how to do things differently. They are able to get around independently, succeed in the workplace, read a newspaper again and take control of their lives.
At CNIB, people with vision loss are connected with professional low-vision assessments, peer support and counselling, life-skills training and safe travel techniques, and a whole range of services that become part of their personalized program for success.
Do people who have vision loss really need help? If they can live independently, do they need special services?
People with vision loss definitely can live independently, but the experience of losing your vision can be difficult, and often people need to learn new ways to do things to regain their independence. CNIB has the experience and expertise that people need to learn how to get their lives back. We can also connect people to counselling or peer support that they may need to adjust to living with vision loss.
And once people have learned to adjust, there are still vital CNIB resources and services that they rely on. For example, CNIB's Library has the books and information people need to stay in touch with the world and succeed in education or a career. Our consumer products allow people to access the latest tools and technology to facilitate independence. CNIB is there for people to help them achieve their goals at every stage of living with vision loss.
How many people in Canada are affected by vision loss? How big of a concern is it?
There are more than 836,000 Canadians currently living with significant vision loss. That number is expected to rise dramatically in the decades ahead with Canada's aging population. We expect that Canada will experience what has been called a “crisis in vision loss” in the coming years.
It's a much bigger problem than most people realize. Consider that in Canada, an estimated one million of us already have some form of AMD (age-related macular degeneration), the leading cause of vision loss in people over 50. That number is expected to more than double to around two million by 2031.
There are also the fundamental inequalities that people with vision loss face. For example, the employment rate among working-age people with vision loss is only 25%, despite the fact that most of this group is highly educated and qualified, a result of outdated employer attitudes. Many people with vision loss live in poverty as a result of discrimination and other barriers, so the social realities of living with vision loss are also a major concern.
What are the most common causes of vision loss in Canada?
The most common cause is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Along with AMD, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts are the four major causes of vision loss in Canada today.
What about vision loss around the world? Is it a big concern in developing countries?
Vision loss is an enormous problem in developing countries. CNIB devotes a portion of our revenues to assisting people in developing countries. A recent project involved AIDS/HIV education for people living with vision loss in Africa. We frequently share expertise and best practices with other countries in the vision rehabilitation field. For example, CNIB has helped several countries in the Caribbean to develop library services for their citizens with vision loss.
How do I get copies of brochures or pamphlets about vision loss topics?
Visit our Publications page, where you'll find many downloadable resources and information on how to order publications that are available for sale.
Is CNIB working to eliminate vision loss in future?
CNIB's public education programs help people to take proactive measures to prevent eye disease. We also invest about $1.25 million each year funding and conducting research, and support education by training scientists in the vision health field at the nation's foremost universities and health-care centres. Our medical research projects look for ways to cure and treat eye disease. Some recent studies we funded looked at treatments for macular degeneration, retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye) and corneal disease. We concentrate on eliminating future vision loss, as well as providing vital programs and services for those who currently have it.