Vision Impairment and Employment

Project Details

For this project, we assessed employment outcomes for people with vision loss in Australia. We analysed data from two national surveys, firstly the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) and the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. These analyses were conducted for Vision Australia to present trends and snapshots of employment outcomes and related factors for people with vision loss. 13 waves of the HILDA survey showed trends over time in employment outcomes between individuals with vision loss and individuals without any impairment. Cross-sectional analysis of the 2009, 2012, and 2015 SDAC permitted examination of differences within the population of people with vision loss.

Key Findings

Our research found that, overall, individuals with vision loss have lower levels of labour force participation compared to the general population. However, labour force participation was highly impacted by comorbidity, as individuals with vision loss only were more likely to be employed than individuals who had other impairments in addition to vision loss. Comorbidity was also associated with increased employment restrictions and a greater likelihood of being permanently unable to work.

Individuals with vision loss who were employed experienced similar outcomes as the general population, but were slightly more likely to be in lower skilled jobs and less likely to be in professional roles. Employed individuals with vision loss were also more likely to work part time and report they were underemployed and wanted more hours.

This research highlights the impact of comorbidity on labour force participation, and illustrates the need for in-depth research on the reasons individuals with vision loss are not in the labour force.


Professor Anne Kavanagh, Disability and Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
Ms Marissa Shields, Disability and Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
Professor Guyonne Kalb, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research
Professor Bernadette McSherry, Melbourne Social Equity Institute


Vision Australia, Melbourne Social Equity Institute and Hallmark Disability Research Initiative

Research Group

Disability and Health Unit

School Research Themes

Disparities, disadvantage and effective health care, Data science, health metrics and disease modeling

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Centre for Health Equity

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