What Are Impairment Goggles?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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Impairment goggles simulate the experience of low vision while intoxicated with the use of special lenses. Similar simulation kits are also available for low vision caused by various ophthalmological disorders. In both cases, the goal is to allow people to experience firsthand a high level of visual impairment. This may be done as part of a safety training, sensitivity exercise, or training for personnel who work around or with people who have low vision, such as older adults or clients of a facility that publishes printed material for blind people.

In the case of alcohol impairment goggles, the lenses distort the wearer’s vision to simulate the experience of being drunk. They may create ripples and waving effects along with tunnel vision, and some are dim to show people what intoxication can feel like in low light conditions, such as driving at night. Such equipment is often used in health classes and safety training for teens, where teachers want to show their students what intoxication feels like to remind them not to drive drunk or attempt to operate heavy machinery while intoxicated. The disorienting goggles provide a credible simulation of the experience of being intoxicated.


Low vision simulation can also be useful for activities like training staff and increasing awareness of how low vision can impact daily life. People with conditions like cataracts, central vision loss, and other issues may find it difficult to perform routine tasks. Goggles can allow people with good or easily corrected vision to understand the specific obstacles that may be encountered. For example, they can illustrate how extremely small or low contrast print may be very hard to read.

In addition, impairment goggles can be useful for testing equipment and materials designed for people with visual impairments. Teams may find it helpful to try out their products internally before releasing them to a small test group. This can help them make some adjustments before trying them on people with low vision, and may provide a greater understanding of specific issues the testers may highlight.

Some impairment goggles come with interchangeable lenses, which can allow people to try different lenses to simulate various visual impairments. People purchasing impairment goggles may want to think about how they will use them and who the target audience is when they decide on the products they want to buy. Interchangeable lens kits can be more expensive, but may provide more flexibility for simulations in the future.


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