Blind, vision (or visual) impairment and low vision are examples of terms that are frequently used to identify a person who experiences difficulties seeing, even when corrected with spectacles.
A common perception of blindness is that a person sees nothing at all and this may be the case. However, there are many people who have been assessed as “legally blind” who have some vision, this could vary depending on the eye condition and could be the ability to see shapes or to distinguish between light and dark. A person’s vision needs to be examined to determine eligibility as legally blind for the purpose of applying for Centrelink payments such as Disability Support Pension (DSP) or the Aged Pension.
The Social Security Act 1991 requires an examination by an Eye Specialist (Ophthalmologist) of a person’s visual acuity (the ability to focus on fine detail) and peripheral vision (what can be seen in the field of vision or outer vision) to determine eligibility.
The following is the Social Security Act’s definition of permanent blindness (people who are blind):
“Permanent Blindness (DSP, Age)
When determining permanent blindness for the purposes of Disability Support Pension or Age, the following guidelines are applied:
- corrected visual acuity on the Snellen Scale must be less than 6/60 in both eyes, or
- constriction to within 10 degrees or less of arc of central fixation in the better eye, irrespective of corrected visual acuity, or
- a combination of visual defects resulting in the same degree of visual impairment as that occurring in the above points.”
Vision impairment is a term used as an overall description of people who experience sight loss. A Booklet “Better Information & Communication Practices” which can be downloaded from the FaHCSIA website defines vision impairment to include “people who are blind and people who have limited vision”
Reference: Federal Department of Family, Community and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) website currently known as Department of Social Services, open in new tab
The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) states “Low vision is a consequence of the eye’s inability to function normally” Open CERA website in new tab