Vision impairment and handicap: The RVIB Employment Survey

Suzie E. Wright, Cathy A. McCarty, Mary Burgess, Jill E. Keeffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the association between type of vision impairment and disability and the handicap or impact of vision loss on functioning. Methods: Participants were interviewed for the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind Employment Survey, and asked to self-report whether totally blind or not (vision impaired). Causes of visual impairment were also reported. Eyesight was rated on a scale from 0 (completely blind) to 10 (best possible eyesight). Difficulty with mobility, personal care, household activities, work and hobbies and social interactions were also rated. Participants with vision impairment also rated their level of disability in reading and seeing other people's reactions using the same scale. Results: Of the 250 participants, 39 self-reported total blindness. Participants with vision impairment experienced greater levels of difficulty in almost all areas than people who self-reported total blindness. People with vision impairment due to glaucoma and macular degeneration reported significantly more difficulty with reading newspapers, while there was a borderline significant relationship between difficulty with seeing people's reactions and macular degeneration. Conclusions: In summary, we found that difficulty associated with everyday tasks was greater than might be expected from self-report of vision. This study confirms the need for visual function tools to supplement the use of objective visual acuity measurements in people with vision impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-207
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Blindness
  • Disability
  • Handicap
  • Vision impairment


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