# Who are the tallest blind people in the world

## numbers and facts

### The numbers dilemma

Blind and visually impaired people are not counted in Germany. That's actually incredible considering how useful empirical data would be. The lack of numbers means that in many areas those responsible are dependent on guesswork as to where they actually need planning security - only the public sector is mentioned as an example.

The DBSV has therefore been calling for empirically collected figures on the situation of blind and visually impaired people in Germany for many years. This would be particularly important for the visually impaired area, in which the number of people affected has apparently been increasing dramatically for years (see WHO figures) - but nothing is known exactly.

So the numbers situation is anything but satisfactory. Below are the few numbers that exist. The sources are given in each case.

### Definitions of blindness / visual impairment

Here are the definitions according to German law:

• A person is visually impaired if, even with glasses or contact lenses, they cannot see more than 30% of what a person with normal vision can see in their better sighted eyes. (Eyesight ≤ 30%)
• A person is severely visually impaired if, even with glasses or contact lenses, they cannot see more than 5% of what a person with normal vision can see in their better sighted eyes. (Eyesight ≤ 5%)
• A person is blind if, even with glasses or contact lenses, they cannot see more than 2% of what a person with normal vision can see in the better sighted eye. (Eyesight ≤ 2%)

For example, what does an eyesight of less than 5% mean? The various eye diseases have extremely different effects (examples can be found in the ABSV's visual impairment simulator). Vision of less than 5% can mean

• that a person only recognizes an object from a distance of 5 m, which a person with normal vision recognizes from a distance of 100 m.

However, vision of less than 5% can also mean

• that a person (like through a tunnel) only sees 5% of the normal field of vision.

### Frequency of blindness / visual impairment (GDR figures)

The GDR Ministry of Health published annual figures based on the statistics of recipients of blind allowances. Blind people who had not applied for blind allowance were not included in this statistic, so it remained an unreported number.

After reunification, the GDR numbers were extrapolated to the whole of Germany using the rule of three. The number of visually impaired people was determined by multiplication - based on the empirical value that there are around ten visually impaired people for every three blind people. This resulted in the following figures: Lived in Germany in the early 1990s

• approx. 150,000 blind people
• approx. 500,000 visually impaired people

### Frequency of blindness / visual impairment (WHO numbers)

Blind and visually impaired people are counted in Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Italy and the Netherlands. The World Health Organization (WHO) evaluated surveys of these countries based on the year 2002 and came to astonishing results, which were published in 2004 (Resnikoff et al .: Global Data on visual impairment in the year 2002).

According to the WHO, the number of visually impaired people in these countries increased by 80 percent between 1990 and 2002, and a similar development must also be assumed for Germany. The background is the phenomenon of "aging society" combined with increasing life expectancy.

Prof. Bernd Bertram has evaluated the WHO figures and drawn conclusions about the situation in Germany. Accordingly, there was in Germany in 2002

• approx. 1.2 million visually impaired and blind people

(Prof. Bernd Bertram: Blindness and visual impairment in Germany: causes and frequency, published in "Der Augenarzt", Volume 39, Issue 6, December 2005)

Because the WHO categorizes blindness and visual impairment differently than German law (namely in WHO grades 1-5, instead of as above), only this total number can be transferred to German conditions.

### Frequency of blindness / visual impairment (statistics on severely disabled persons)

According to information from the Federal Statistical Office, there was on December 31, 2019 in Germany

• 76,740 blind people
• 51,094 severely visually impaired people
• 452,930 visually impaired people

The DBSV regards these numbers as a secure lower limit and assumes higher numbers. The reason is that the severely handicapped statistics only include people with a severely handicapped ID card, which many visually impaired and also some blind people do not have.

Note: The above figures differ from the figures published in the statistics for the severely disabled. The reason is that the severely disabled person statistics show the most severe disability if there are several existing disabilities. In order to find out the total number of people with a certain disability, this must be requested from the Federal Statistical Office, which the DBSV has done. The difference between the numbers of the severely handicapped statistics and the total numbers is small for blindness (there are few disabilities that are more severe than blindness) and very large for “other visual impairments”.

### Age and gender structure

On request, the Bavarian Family and Social Center provides a table showing the age and gender structure of people who receive benefits under the Bavarian Blindengeldgesetz. The most important results as of October 2020:

• In Bavaria, 12,397 blind people receive blind allowance.
• 3.4% of them are minors.
• More than two thirds (66.9%) are older than 60 years.
• 40.3% are 80 years or older.
• 55.5% are female (44.5% male).

Severely visually impaired people also receive benefits in accordance with the Bavarian Blind Pay Act. They are not included in the above figures.

### Eye diseases in Germany

The Gutenberg Health Study (GHS) is an internationally renowned research project of the Mainz University Medical Center. Since 2007, more than 15,000 people have participated in the GHS as test subjects. In 2015, the first figures on eye diseases from this series of tests were published. Data are now available on the frequency of the three largest eye diseases age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma (glaucoma) and diabetic retinopathy. These are the first figures that can be based on a large-scale study carried out in Germany on a representative sample of the population.

In Germany, based on the total population, the

• Proportion of people with age-dependent macular degeneration (late stages) 0.59 percent (i.e. approx. 480,000 people affected)
• Proportion of people with age-dependent macular degeneration (early stages) 8.43 percent (i.e. approx. 6,938,000 affected persons)
• Proportion of people with glaucoma 1.12 percent (i.e. 919,000 people affected)
• Proportion of people with diabetic retinopathy 1.53 percent (i.e. 1,267,000 people affected - corresponds to 21.7 percent of people with known diabetes in Germany)

Source: www.woche-des-sehens.de/augenkrankheiten (last updated in September 2020)