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When Considered Legally Blind

People often ask about the difference between being blind and being “legally blind.” Because “blindness” can mean many different things, blindness under the law is the threshold at which a person is considered visually impaired for legal purposes, such as insurance purposes, to receive certain benefits, or to be accepted into various programs. American printing house for the blind. What is legal blindness? Blind people are “legally blind,” but some people who can see with strong eyeglasses say they are legally blind without their glasses. This means that without glasses, they might not see well enough to see certain things, drive, etc. Visual acuity below 20/200 is considered blind under the law, but to truly fit the definition, the person must not be able to achieve 20/200 vision, even with prescription glasses. Many people who would be legally blind without glasses can function well in everyday life with proper glasses or contact lenses. Most surveys and studies show that the majority of people living in the United States with vision loss are adults who are not completely blind; Instead, they have what`s called poor eyesight. You may have heard the terms “partial vision” or “partial blindness” or even “poor eyesight,” which are also used to describe low vision. However, these descriptions are no longer commonly used. Few people today are completely blind.

In fact, 85% of all people with eye diseases have some kind of vision; About 15% are completely blind. Striem-Amit E, Gen M, Amedi A. “Visual acuity of congenital blind persons by visual sensory substitution for auditory. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33136. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033136 We`ve all heard the term “legally blind,” but what does it really mean? How is it different from complete blindness and who is considered legally blind? If you`re not completely blind yet, but your vision isn`t what it used to be, you probably fall into the category of visually impaired adults. Visual impairment is sometimes referred to as “partial blindness”, but because the term is not necessarily accurate, “visual impairment” is preferred. If you have a Snellen rating above 20/70, with and without contact lenses or glasses, you have relatively good vision and are not legally blind or even legally visually impaired. To be legally blind, you must meet one of two criteria: visual acuity (visual acuity) and field of vision (the full range of what you can see without moving your eyes).

Total blindness is the complete absence of light perception and shape perception and is recorded as “NLP”, an abbreviation for “no light perception”. Being legally blind affects your eyesight, but that doesn`t have to stop you from living a fulfilling life. Another way of looking at it: if someone with 20/20 vision is standing next to a legally blind person, the legally blind person should approach up to 20 feet to see an object from 200 feet away, as well as the person with normal vision. An ophthalmologist will measure visual acuity and visual field to determine if a person is legally blind. Normal visibility is 20/20. This means that you can clearly see an object from 20 feet away. If you are legally blind, your vision is 20/200 or less in your best eye or your field of vision is less than 20 degrees. That is, if an object is 200 feet away, you must stand 20 feet away from it to see it clearly. But a person with normal vision can stand at 200 feet and see this object perfectly. What does it mean to be legally blind? The definition of legal blindness was developed as a guideline to help people receive government support, such as Social Security disability benefits.

The Department of Motor Vehicles also uses the definition to measure visibility and protect our roads from drivers who have difficulty seeing. Most government agencies and health care institutions agree that legal blindness is defined as visual acuity (central vision) of 20/200 or worse in the best sighted eye or a field of vision (peripheral vision) limited to only 20 degrees. Visual acuity of 20/200 means that what the legally blind person can see at 20 feet, the average person can see clearly at 200 feet. When it comes to the field of vision, the average person can see 140 degrees without turning their head. What are the main causes of blindness? According to the National Eye Institute, there are four main causes of blindness in the United States. A legally blind person with 20/200 vision (with the best corrective lenses) would have to be 20 feet away from an object to see it, and someone with 20/20 vision could see it from 200 feet away. “Legal blindness” is a definition used by the U.S. government to determine eligibility for job training, rehabilitation, education, disability benefits, equipment for the visually impaired, and tax exemption programs.

It`s not a functional definition of low vision and doesn`t tell us much about what a person can and can`t see. Like the term “legal blindness,” “visual impairment” is not a functional definition that tells us a lot about what a person can and cannot see. It is more of a classification system than a definition. There are many conditions that can cause legal blindness, but the most common are age-related eye diseases. Age-related eye diseases, which are the main causes of low vision and blindness, include: Did you know: The largest letter on the map (an E on most Snellen diagrams) is equivalent to 20/200 vision. If someone cannot distinguish this letter with his prescribed glasses, he is considered blind within the meaning of the law. Being considered legally blind means you can`t drive in any state. Talk to your doctor about your concerns.

About 80% of blind people have residual vision. It can be difficult to understand how a person with a particular eye condition can see some things while not seeing others. While some people lose a lot of vision in a short time, others slowly lose vision. Many diseases that cause blindness begin to affect a certain part of vision and then progress to remove more vision. For example, macular degeneration initially affects a person`s central vision (the vision that makes us see straight ahead). Visual examples of what individuals might see if they have diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and retinitis pigmentosa can be found on the National Eye Institute`s website at www.nei.nih.gov. The Iowa Department for the Blind also serves people who are functionally blind. A person is functionally blind when they have to use so many alternative techniques to perform tasks that are normally performed with vision that their daily lifestyle is significantly altered. These alternative techniques could include reading a newspaper while listening to the phone or using Braille to read a book. The terms may also be used by health insurers to determine benefits and as part of the vision screening tests required by state departments of motor vehicles (DMV) when determining driver`s license eligibility. For safety reasons, people who are legally blind or visually impaired are generally not entitled to a driver`s licence.

While low vision or legal blindness can be limiting, there are many resources and tools to help you live your life with the utmost independence. Depending on the cause of your vision loss, you may be able to benefit from eye exercises and strategies to participate in daily activities. You may also find it helpful to use a stick, talking calculator, special computer software, and other products to help people who are legally blind.

Updated: December 11, 2022 — 7:25 pm


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