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Vision impairment (VI) is when someone can’t see properly and their vision can’t be fixed by wearing glasses or lenses.  Most people with VI can tell the difference between light and dark.


What is it like for siblings if their brother or sister has a Vision Impairment?

Lots of siblings get on really well with their brothers and sisters who have a VI. However, they may often be told that they have to look after them and help them with things. Siblings may also be expected to help more around the house than their brothers or sisters which sometimes doesn’t feel fair.

What causes Vision Impairment?

Eyes have a lens at the front to let light in.  The light travels through the eyeball to a screen at the back which changes the light into electric signals, which are sent to the brain by special nerves. This is similar to the way a camera works. If any of these bits don’t work well, it will stop someone from seeing properly. Some people are born with a VI. This may be because their parents have a VI, or it may just happen. Other people can develop a Vision Impairment because they have had an accident or a serious illness.

Some people may have one eye that works fine, but the other eye doesn’t work properly.

What does it mean?

We use our eyes to help with nearly everything we do; going for a walk, getting dressed, eating, cutting up food, reading, writing, cooking, recognising our friends, finding things we have put down. People with VI have to find other ways of doing all these things, and may need help with some of them. For example, they may have to be very careful to put things away in their proper place, so they can be found. It can sometimes be difficult for people with VI to meet and make friends.

People with VI can get very good at using their other senses, especially hearing and touch, to tell them what is happening around them.

What treatment is there?

A doctor who looks after people with an eye condition is called an ophthalmologist. Some eye conditions can be treated. For others there is no treatment that can make sight better.

There are lots of things that people with vision impairment can do to help them make the most of the sight they have:

  • Make things bigger by using magnifiers or large print
  • Make things brighter by using extra lights
  • Make things bolder by using bright colours which stand out

They may also use special equipment like:

Talking computers and books.

Books written in braille which has bumps on the paper that can be read with their fingers.

A specially trained guide dog.

Information approved by RNIB March 2024