Cincinnati Association for the
Blind & Visually Impaired

CABVI Resources




CABVI provides resources to help people who are blind or visually impaired understand a wide range of eye conditions as well as information to help individuals identify signs of potential impairments. We also offer tips for aiding people who are blind and visually ipaired based on their needs and their specific requests for assistance.

Our Referral Program is for doctors and other sources who may become aware of a person that is having difficulty with vision loss. Click here for more information on making referrals.

CABVI is helping to educate the community about blindness and visual impairments in order to create more opportunities for people with vision loss to be empowered in their daily lives.


Visual Impairment and its Causes

There are many different causes of blindness and visual impairment, including aging, disease, congenital problems and accidents. In the United States, the major causes of blindness and severe visual impairment are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, and to some degree, cataracts.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is an eye condition that affects the retina, a thin layer of tissue that covers the back inside wall of the eye. The central portion of the retina is called the macula, and it is responsible for central vision which is used to see details. Thus, this eye condition affects a person’s ability to read, identify faces, etc. Macular degeneration does not result in total blindness. New treatments may slow the progression of macular degeneration, but cannot reverse the condition.


Glaucoma is an eye condition that can cause blindness without any symptoms or pain. Glaucoma causes progressive damage to the optic nerve, often due to high pressure inside the eye. This damage causes loss of side vision and can eventually result in blindness. Only an eye examination can tell whether glaucoma is present, and if diagnosed in its early stages, treatment with drops and other medications can be most effective.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a disease of the eye caused when the small blood vessels in the retina begin to weaken or get blocked. The disease’s effect on vision can range from a distortion similar to looking through water, to dark spots throughout the visual field. Eventually the retina can become detached resulting in severe vision loss or blindness. For people with diabetes, the risk for this disease can be lowered by controlling blood sugar levels and diet.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is the name given to a group of eye diseases that are genetic. RP affects the part of the eye that is sensitive to light. RP usually develops slowly and severe vision loss may happen over a period of many years. An early symptom is night blindness. The next symptom is a loss of side vision, which may continue to develop over time until all side vision is lost. RP may lead to total blindness. There is no cure at this time.


Meeting a Person Who is Blind

Some people may feel uneasy when thinking about assisting a person who is blind or visually impaired.

Listed below are some helpful suggestions:

  • Identify yourself.
  • Speak in a normal and comfortable tone. Do not shout. Most persons who are blind can hear well.
  • Look at and speak directly to the person, not to a third party.
  • Remember that nods, shrugs and gestures may not be noticed as clues to what you are conveying.
  • Do not avoid words like blind, look, or see. These words are part of everyday conversation.
  • Feel free to discuss and attend movies or sporting events with persons who are blind or visually impaired. They enjoy common activities as much as anyone.Remember that persons who are blind choose the areas of their lives in which to remain independent and the areas in which they welcome assistance.

Watch a video on how to be a sighted guide.

The Sighted Guide Technique

The Sighted Guide Technique is popularly accepted as the safest, most efficient way for a person with a visual impairment to walk with a sighted person.

  • Identify yourself and ask if assistance is needed.
  • Let the person take your arm just above your elbow with the thumb on one side and fingers on the other pointing straight ahead. You can guide with either the right or the left arm, which can either hang straight at your side or bend at the elbow.
  • The person follows a half step behind you at a pace which is comfortable for both of you.
  • Remember that nods, shrugs and gestures may not be noticed as clues to what you are conveying.
  • To sit, bring the person into contact with the chair. Describe which way the chair faces.
  • Say right and left when giving directions based on the way the person is facing.
  • Identify steps, curbs, or other obstacles.
  • Inform the person if you need to leave. Put the person in contact with an object such as a wall or piece of furniture.
  • Do not pet, feed or distract a dog guide from doing its job.

Information about Blindness

The term blind does not necessarily mean complete loss of sight, but could also describe varying degrees of functional vision. Over 90% of individuals who are blind have some remaining vision which can be used for a variety of tasks such as reading or travel. With the use of adaptive techniques, other sensory information or special equipment, most persons who are blind or visually impaired can remain independent.

The incidence of blindness is increasing primarily because people are living longer. Major causes of visual impairment are macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and, to a lesser degree, cataracts.

Extend the same courtesies and respect to persons who are blind or visually impaired that you would to anyone you meet.


How to Make Referrals for Services

If you wish to refer a patient for Low Vision, Vision Rehabilitation, Orientation and Mobility, Access Technology or any other service, please print a copy of our CABVI Eye Exam Report, complete the information and fax to 513-221-2995.

If you wish to refer a child to the Early Childhood Intervention and Youth Services (ECYS), please print a copy of our ECYS Eye Exam Report, complete the information and fax to 513-221-2995.

You may also mail this form to: Cincinnati Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired, 2045 Gilbert Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

Referrals for Service

Referrals are welcome from any source. CABVI provides services to anyone having difficulty due to vision loss.

To refer someone, please email contact information to and the Intake Specialist will respond to your request.


Organizational Links



The Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired provides links to other websites solely as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement.



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