Legal Blindness: Causes and Treatment

All About Legal Blindness

What Is Legal Blindness?

This might be very surprised that it’s not the doctors who chose the term “legally blind” it’s the government that uses this term to choose people who can get certain benefits like disability or job training. Being legally blind (Legal Blindness) is different from permanent blindness. People who are permanently blind are not able to see anything at all. Whereas people who are legally blind can see a bit but the image is not clear.

There are two criteria for measuring legal blindness, these are:

1. Visual acuity (sharpness of vision) of 20/200 or less in the eye you can see out of best (while wearing corrective glasses or contacts)

2.Visual field (the entire scope of what you can see without moving your eyes) of no more than 20 degrees.

Normal vision for a person is 20/20 which means you can see things 20 feet away. People who are legally blind have a vision of 20/200 or less which means if an object is 200 feet away they will have to stand 20 feet from it to see that object. Some diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetes can severely affect your vision. Therefore, they must be diagnosed properly and on time. If you delay too much you might lose your vision forever.


Causes of Legal Blindness

Causes of Legal Blindness


Many reasons can lead to legal blindness but the most commons are age-related eye diseases. Some of the age-related disease causing vision problems are:

Age-related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration, as the name suggests is an eye condition in which the macula (central part of the retina) deteriorates. AMD leads to central vision loss and is found in people above the age of 60.


In glaucoma, the pressure within the eyeball increases and causes optic nerve damage. Glaucoma decreases vision and the bad news is half of the patients with glaucoma are not aware of the condition. That is why it is important to have an eye exam every year.


Cataracts are the most common eye condition found in the elderly. In this condition, the formation of a cloudy substance in the lens of the eye leads to blurry vision.


Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes may affect your eyes and cause blurry vision. Because the increased blood sugar levels in diabetes can damage blood vessels in the retina.

Eye trauma or eye injury can also be the major cause leading to legal blindness. Therefore, keep your eyes safe and away from all these diseases as much as possible.


Tests For Legal Blindness

If you have any problem with your vision make sure you contact an eye doctor immediately. Your doctor will conduct several tests to determine the problem causing abnormal vision. two main tests for detecting legal blindness are visual acuity and visual field. According to the result of these two, the doctor will determine your eyesight.

Visual Acuity Test

The Snellen chart is used for measuring visual acuity. The doctor will measure your eyesight before if you are already wearing eyeglasses or contact lens, If not then they might conduct visual tests. In the visual test is you are asked to read a chart placed in front of you. The chart will consist of several letters; the size of the letter will gradually decrease as you go down. The doctor will ask you to keep a hand in front of one eye and read those letters with the other. And after that, you will be asked to read the letters from the other eye. This helps the doctor to determine which eye has more problems.

While testing, the doctor will place certain lenses in front of your eye and will keep changing them until and unless you find what’s best for your eyes i.e. which lens gives you clearer vision. If the vision improves on the glasses or the lens it means you are not legally blind.

Tests For Legally blind
Tests For Legally blind

Visual Field Test

The visual field is a test in which the focus of the patient is kept at the centre and see how much he can see without moving his/her eyes. visual field checks if your view of the field is normal and have no spots or unusual peripheral vision. Having a normal view of the field is important for driving or crossing a street safely.


What Happens If You Have Legal Blindness?

What Happens if You are Legally Blind?


The difficulty of been legally blind varies from person to person. Some people can see things clearly from distance but not from the sides of their eyes whereas some people always have blurred vision.

In some countries, people who are legally blind are not allowed to drive at all. Therefore, you must ask your doctor about all the necessary details of been legally blind. You cannot diagnose the problem yourself so make sure you consult a doctor immediately when you observe a change in your vision or having any kind of eye trouble.

Many organizations help people who are legally blind. American Foundation for the blind is of such an organization that can help you. They conduct several programs and workshops to help you deal with physical and emotional effects or vision loss.

If you are legally blind always keep in mind that been legally blind affects your vision. However, it can never stop you from living a fulfilling and happy life.


Treatment For Legal Blindness

Treatment depends on the cause and stage of the disease. For age-related legal blindness, there is no such cure. Therefore, the patients are been prescribed some medicines and eye drops to prevent the eyesight from getting worse. For example, the goal of the treatment of glaucoma is to reduce eye pressure therefore, the patients are been given eye drops, medicines. Whereas in some conditions, they go through laser surgery to prevent their eyes from further damage. If you have had any such surgeries or simply some eye issue make sure you go for your regular check-ups and take your medicines as mentioned by your doctor. Leaving the medications in between can worsen the situation of your eyes.

A cataract is a disease in which cloud-like surface is formed on your iris leading to blurry vision. It can be cured with surgery in which the clouded lens is removed and replaced it with a clear lens. This method is known as a lens implant.

Today there are many low vision training and rehabilitation centers. They provide services to improve your vision and the quality of your life. The service provided by them, for instance, includes eye exercises, training, and strategies to improve poor and reduced glares to take part in your common activities just you used to before.


Are Legal Blindness And Permanent Blindness Same?

Being legally blind is different from permanent blindness as the person with legal blindness can see some things but most of the image formed is not clear. Several diseases are causing legal blindness such as cataracts, diabetes, or glaucoma. Make sure if you have any issue with your vision you contact a doctor as they will guide you about the cause of the vision change and the required treatment regarding that disease.

However, age-related macular degeneration also leads to a vision problem and it cannot be cured. Therefore, in such cases, you will be provided with enough medications to prevent your eyes from getting worse.


Facilities For People With Legal Blindness

Facilities for legally blind


Low vision can keep you from doing certain things but, there are many tools and facilities are available for the legally blind. these can help them live an independent life with dignity.

The government runs many schemes and programs to help the legally blind. Society security administration provides certain benefits and jobs to the legally blind, so they can lead a normal life.

There is much low vision equipment available for people with low vision. A Legally blind person can perform daily activities like managing finances, managing medications, preparing meals, etc. with the help of some improving vision tools. Optical, non-optical, electro-magnifying tools can make it possible to perform daily tasks.



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