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Can J Diet Pract Res. 2009 Spring;70(1):13-8.

Food experiences and eating patterns of visually impaired and blind people.

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  • 1Food, Nutrition & Health, Faculty of Land & Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.



The number of visually impaired and blind Canadians will rise dramatically as our population ages, and yet little is known about the impact of blindness on the experience of food and eating. In this qualitative study, the food experiences and eating patterns of visually impaired and blind people were examined. Influencing factors were also explored.


In 2000, nine blind or severely visually impaired subjects were recruited through blindness-related organizations in British Columbia. Participants completed individual semi-structured, in-depth interviews. These were transcribed verbatim, coded, and analyzed to explicate participants' experiences.


Participants experienced blindness-related obstacles when shopping for food, preparing food, and eating in restaurants. Inaccessible materials and environments left participants with a diet lacking in variety and limited access to physical activity. Seven participants were overweight or obese, a finding that may be related to limited physical activity and higher-than-average restaurant use.


This is the first study in which the experience of food and eating is described from the perspective of visually impaired Canadians. Nutrition and blindness professionals must work together to reduce the food-related obstacles faced by visually impaired and blind people. Professionals must address both individual skill development and social and structural inequities.

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