Adult Learner

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We typically use our Vision to perceive the world around us. Reading and writing require being able to see the detailed features of text clearly and being able to track text on paper and in digital formats. Adults with vision loss may have had early vision loss, or have more recently developed progressive vision loss. Individuals with vision difficulties can face challenges with a wide range of visual demands as well as physical and mental health.

Main Ideas

Vision loss can occur to different extents. While "perfect vision" is measured as 20/20, an adult is considered to have severe low vision at 20/70 and is considered legally blind when their Vision is 20/200 or worse. Adults with vision loss may have difficulty perceiving colors, written words and symbols, or may only have difficulty perceiving objects at a distance or in central or peripheral view. In the United States, there are approximately 8 million individuals with severe vision loss and blindness.

  • Early vision loss can either be prenatal, occurring during fetal development, or postnatal, as a result of birth complications or a genetic condition. Early vision loss can result in a myriad of visual deficits, including central vision blindness, peripheral blindness, or low vision.
  • Progressive vision loss may be due to a genetic predisposition or may develop with disease, age, or other conditions. Common visual impairments in adults include age-related macular degeneration, distance impairments, untreated presbyopia, and cataracts. Adults may also experience symptoms such as eye strain as a result of prolonged computer screen use. Progressive vision loss can be reversible and/or treatable, or can cause permanent blindness. For adults with progressive vision loss, feelings of depression and anxiety are more common with the increased loss of visual acuity and independence.

People with vision loss vary widely in the severity of their impairment and in the access they have to medical professionals and rehabilitation. For those adults who lack this support, learning new skills or content which rely on Vision can be more difficult if they do not have the appropriate visual support.

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