Impact of Vision Loss
Visual impairments have ongoing adverse consequences for health, independence and well-being. Vision loss is consistently associated with depression and anxiety and is likely to affect mobility as well as access to social connections. Social isolation, disengagement, loneliness, and loss of social support may result. Visual impairments also causes limited access to information for blind and visually impaired citizens of Central Massachusetts. Given that less than 5% of published information is available in a format which can be accessed by people who are blind, visually impaired, or physically impaired, we will advocate to advance policies and practices to make this information available in formats that people can access.
- According to the report for the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, 20.6 million American Adults age 18 and older have experienced vision loss and its prevalence is increasing especially among our older citizens. The Special Report on Aging and Vision Loss by the American Foundation for the Blind states that “two-thirds of the legally blind population are seniors who lost vision as a result of age-related eye diseases”.
- One of the major causes of blindness is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), with prevalence estimates ranging from 10% among people aged 65 to 75 to 30% among those aged 75 and older.
- In the U.S. around 75% of working age blind adults are unable to obtain gainful employment (American Foundation for the Blind). In the population of children born with blindness that number rises to about 90%.
Impact of a print disability
A print disability prevents one from holding printed materials. Common causes include paralysis, arthritis, stroke, AIDS, multiple sclerosis,cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s disease, just to name a few. Audio Journal also works to increase employment opportunities for legally blind individuals through training and associated services.
Preparing for Our Rapidly Aging Population
It is the baby boom generation – those who are on the brink of aging into the senior age group that have yet to experience the full extent of the severity of age-related eye conditions and lack of physical mobility. Audio Journal is preparing for the impact.
- Experts predict that by 2030 rates of vision loss will double along with the country’s aging population
- The percentage of adults with three or more physical limitations also increases with age.
- Some of the most frequently diagnosed age-related diseases trigger the loss of vision or blindness, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, some type of disability (i.e., difficulty in hearing, vision, cognition, ambulation, self-care, or independent living) was reported by 36% of people age 65 and over in 2013. The percentages for individual disabilities ranged from almost one quarter (23 percent) having an ambulatory disability to 7 percent having a vision difficulty.
- Cognitive decline and dementia may become more likely with isolation. According to the Administration on Aging, about 28 percent (12.1 million) of all noninstitutionalized older persons in 2013 lived alone (8.4 million women, 3.7 million men). They represented 35% of older women and 19% of older men. The proportion living alone increases with advanced age. Among women aged 75 and over, for example, almost half (45 percent) lived alone.