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.
“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.
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.