LIFE

See The World Through The Eyes Of A Person With Visual Impairment

Four out of five of the world's blind people don't need to be.

30/06/2017 8:39 AM AEST | Updated 30/06/2017 9:07 AM AEST

Ever wondered what it's like to be blind or severely vision impaired?

Now, you can see for yourself with the Fred Hollows Foundation's sight simulator.

Fred Hollows Foundation
For someone with severe cataracts, the Sydney Opera House is barely recognisable from the Harbour Bridge.

Using the new online tool, you can enter a familiar location -- the Sydney Opera House, Parliament House or even your home address -- and see a familiar location through the eyes of someone who has cataracts, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy.

With cataracts, a person develops blurred vision, glaucoma creates tunnel vision and someone with diabetic retinopathy sees patches of dark, light and blurred sight.

The tool was launched in the United States earlier this year and has now been unveiled in Australia. It uses images from Google Street View, while a sliding tool allows you to adjust the severity of the eye condition.

Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Brian Doolan said he hopes the simulator will help more people understand what its like to have a visual impairment.

Fred Hollows Foundation
Parliament House in Canberra, as seen by someone who has diabetic retinopathy.

"Sight is something that, unless we have a problem with it, we hardly ever think about it. We just take it for granted," he told HuffPost Australia.

There are more than 32.4 million people in the world who are blind -- that's more than the population of Australia. For 80 percent of these people, their eye disease is preventable or treatable, but isolation, lack of money or education prevents them getting help.

"The leading cause of blindness is poverty, and the second leading cause is gender," Doolan said, noting that the majority of legally blind people in the world are women.

Supplied
Nabiritha Mwanahmisi spent seven years of her life legally blind due to cataracts. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, but a simple surgery is often all that's needed to restore sight.

The Foundation works in 25 countries across Asia and Africa to help restore sight to many of these people. In 2016, the charity supported over 1 million eye surgeries and treatments, more than any other year in its 25-year history.

One of those people was Nabiritha, a seven-year-old girl from rural Kenya.

Nabiritha was born with cataracts and legally blind.

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, accounting for 51 percent of cases.

When the Foundation stepped in, a simple surgery taking less than an hour was able to give Nabiritha sight for the first time.

"Imagine for all those years my child has never known what I look like. I never thought this day would come," her mother Emily told the Foundation.

You can check out the Foundation's Sight Simulator for yourself here.


ALSO ON HUFFPOST AUSTRALIA

More On This Topic