What Prescription Is Legally Blind?

Request Guest Post

Have you ever wondered what it means to be legally blind? Is a specific prescription needed in order to reach this classification? In this blog post, we will explore the criteria for being considered legally blind and how it is determined. Join us as we dive into the world of vision impairment and find out what prescription is legally blind.

Introduction to the Concept of Legally Blind

The term “legally blind” is a legal and medical definition used to describe individuals with significant visual impairment. It is a designation given to people who have been deemed unable to perform tasks that require normal eyesight, such as driving, without the aid of corrective lenses or visual aids.

Contrary to popular belief, being legally blind does not necessarily mean complete blindness. In fact, most legally blind individuals still have some remaining vision. The World Health Organization defines legally blind as having vision that cannot be corrected beyond 20/200 in the better eye or having a limited field of vision less than 20 degrees in diameter.

This means that even with the use of glasses or contact lenses, if your visual acuity is 20/200 or worse in your better eye, you are considered legally blind. In simpler terms, what someone with perfect vision can see from a distance of 200 feet away, someone who is legally blind can only see from a distance of 20 feet away.

However, it’s important to note that while this definition may apply for legal purposes such as obtaining disability benefits or acquiring special accommodations at school and work, it may vary slightly depending on location. Different countries and states may have their own specific criteria for determining legal blindness.

Moreover, there are also various levels of visual impairment within the classification of legally blind. Some individuals may have central vision loss which affects their ability to see fine details necessary for reading and recognizing faces. Others may have peripheral vision loss which affects their side or bottom-up view resulting in difficulty navigating through crowded spaces or judging distances.

The causes of legal blindness can vary greatly and include conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal detachment or damage caused by injury or disease. Visual impairment can also be congenital meaning they are present at birth due genetic factors.

Understanding the concept of legally blind is important in order to gain a better awareness and sensitivity towards individuals with visual impairments. While it may come with its challenges, technology and advancements in medical treatments have made it possible for individuals who are legally blind to lead independent and fulfilling lives. And as always, regular eye examinations can help catch any potential issues early on, allowing for timely interventions that could prevent legal blindness.

Definition of legally blind and its criteria

Introduction to Legally Blind

Legally blind is a term used to describe individuals who have severe visual impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. It is not a specific diagnosis, but rather a legal definition that determines eligibility for certain benefits and services. In this section, we will discuss the actual definition of legally blind and the criteria used to determine it.

Definition of Legally Blind

According to the American Optometric Association, an individual is considered legally blind if their best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) is 20/200 or worse in their better eye, or if they have a limited visual field in their better eye of 20 degrees or less. This means that even with vision correction, such as glasses or contact lenses, they are unable to see at 20 feet what someone with normal vision can see at 200 feet. Additionally, anyone whose visual acuity falls into the range of counting fingers at three feet or less in both eyes, qualifies as legally blind.

Visual Acuity: As mentioned above, an individual’s BCVA must be 20/200 or worse in their better eye. This measurement is taken using an eye chart while standing at a distance of 20 feet from it. If someone’s BCVA falls within this range, they are considered legally blind.

Visual Field: The visual field refers to the area surrounding us that we can see without moving our eyes. In order for an individual to be classified as legally blind based on their limited visual field, they must have a restricted area of less than 20 degrees in their better eye when measured using specialized equipment called perimeter tests.

Other Factors: Besides these objective measurements of vision loss, there are also subjective factors that may contribute to being classified as legally blind. These include extreme light sensitivity (photophobia), distorted images (metamorphopsia), and low contrast sensitivity. These symptoms may vary from person to person and can significantly impact an individual’s functioning and quality of life.


Legally blind is a legal definition used to determine eligibility for certain benefits and services for individuals with severe visual impairment. To be considered legally blind, an individual must meet specific criteria in terms of their visual acuity and field. It is essential to understand the definition of legally blind as it affects the opportunities and resources available for those who are visually impaired.

How vision is measured and what prescription levels constitute as legally blind

Vision is an essential sense that allows us to experience and navigate the world around us. Without adequate vision, our daily tasks become significantly challenging, affecting our quality of life. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how vision is measured and what prescription levels constitute as legally blind.

When measuring an individual’s vision, eye care professionals use a standardized chart called the Snellen chart. The chart consists of rows of letters with varying sizes. A person stands 20 feet away from the chart and reads off letters from the smallest row they can see clearly. The results are recorded in fractions, with the numerator representing the distance at which a person stands from the chart and the denominator indicating the size of letters they can read comfortably.

For example, if a person has 20/40 vision, it means they have to stand at 20 feet from the chart to see what a normal-sighted individual sees at 40 feet. In contrast, someone with 20/100 vision has much poorer eyesight than someone with 20/40 vision.

The term “legally blind” refers to someone who has very low visual acuity or restricted peripheral (side) vision that cannot be corrected even with glasses or contact lenses. This term does not imply complete blindness but rather ranges from severely impaired sight to total blindness.

According to legal standards in most countries, an individual is considered legally blind if their best-corrected visual acuity (with glasses or contacts) is 20/200 or less in their better eye or if their visual field (the area one can see without moving their eyes) is equal to or less than only twenty degrees diameter.

In simple terms, this means that a legally blind person has to be within twenty feet of an object to view what a normally sighted person could see from about two hundred feet away on average.

Besides low visual acuity and restricted peripheral vision, other conditions may also contribute to legal blindness, such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinitis pigmentosa.

Measuring vision and determining legal blindness is a standardized process using the Snellen chart. A person is considered legally blind if their visual acuity with correction is 20/200 or less in the better eye or if their visual field is equal to or less than twenty degrees diameter. It is essential to consult an eye care professional regularly to monitor any changes in vision and ensure appropriate treatment for maintaining optimal eyesight.

Understanding the differences between visual acuity and prescription level

Visual acuity and prescription level are two important terms that often cause confusion among people. Both these terms relate to the clarity of vision, but they have different meanings and purposes.

Visual acuity refers to the sharpness of vision, or how clearly a person can see objects from a distance. It is typically measured using an eye chart with progressively smaller letters or symbols. The higher the visual acuity measurement, the better a person’s ability to see details at a distance. Visual acuity is expressed as a fraction, with 20/20 considered as normal or perfect vision. This means that at 20 feet (6 meters), a person can see what a normal-sighted individual would be able to see from 20 feet away.

On the other hand, prescription level refers to the strength of corrective lenses needed by an individual to improve their visual acuity. It is determined by an eye doctor through various tests and examinations such as refraction and visual field testing. Prescription level is written in diopters (D) and indicates how much correction power is required for each eye. A positive value (+) means that the person has farsightedness (hyperopia) while a negative value (-) indicates nearsightedness (myopia). The higher the prescription level, the stronger corrective lenses are needed for clear vision.

So how do these two terms relate to legal blindness? Legal blindness refers to a specific level of visual impairment that affects an individual’s ability to function independently. In most countries, including the United States, legal blindness is defined as having either 20/200 or less visual acuity in their better eye even with glasses or contact lenses OR having less than 20 degrees of peripheral field of view.

This means that even if someone has perfect or near-perfect visual acuity (e.g., 20/15), they can still be legally blind if they have severe damage in their central field of vision or if their peripheral vision is severely restricted. Again, it is important to note that prescription level does not determine legal blindness; it is the overall visual impairment and its impact on daily functioning that determines this designation.

Understanding the differences between visual acuity and prescription level is crucial in determining a person’s level of visual impairment. While visual acuity measures the sharpness of vision at a distance, prescription level indicates the strength of corrective lenses needed for clear vision. Legal blindness, on the other hand, takes into account both these factors along with others to designate an individual as having a significant visual impairment.

The impact of being legally blind on daily life

Living with any disability can bring unique challenges and it is no different for those who are legally blind. Being legally blind means having a vision that is severely impaired and cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. This can have a significant impact on daily life, from simple tasks to more complex activities.

One of the main effects of being legally blind is difficulty with mobility. This includes basic activities such as walking around the house or navigating public spaces. Without clear vision, individuals may struggle to see obstacles or hazards in their path, making them more vulnerable to accidents and falls. This can also limit one’s independence as they may require assistance in getting around.

In addition, being legally blind can make even the simplest tasks like cooking, cleaning, and personal grooming become much more challenging. These activities often require fine motor skills and visual cues that may be difficult for someone with impaired vision to carry out efficiently.

Moreover, everyday communication can also be impacted by legal blindness. For instance, reading text messages or emails becomes nearly impossible without assistive technology or large font sizes. Non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language may also go unnoticed, making it harder to understand social interactions.

Another major aspect affected by legal blindness is access to education and employment opportunities. Individuals with limited vision may face difficulties in participating fully in classroom discussions or taking exams without accommodations like enlarged print materials or screen-reading software. In terms of employment, finding suitable jobs that accommodate their visual impairment can be challenging.

On top of these practical issues, being legally blind can also have an emotional impact on an individual’s daily life. Adjusting to a new way of living and coping with potential limitations can lead to feelings of frustration, isolation, and even depression. It may also affect self-confidence and self-esteem as well as relationships with family and friends.

Despite the many challenges faced by those who are legally blind on a daily basis, there are ways to adapt and overcome these barriers. Assistive devices such as magnifiers, screen-readers, and audio books can help with tasks like reading and writing. Support from family, friends, and professionals can also make a significant difference in managing the emotional impact of legal blindness.

Being legally blind has a profound impact on daily life. It affects an individual’s physical abilities, communication, education and employment opportunities, as well as their emotional well-being. However, with the right support and resources, individuals who are legally blind can lead fulfilling lives and accomplish their goals.

Legal blindness is a term used to describe severe visual impairment that significantly limits a person’s ability to perform daily activities, such as reading, writing, and driving. In the United States, legal blindness is defined as having a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less in the better eye. While there are various medical conditions that can lead to legal blindness, there are some common causes that are known to contribute to this condition.

  1. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
    Age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of legal blindness among adults over the age of 60. It occurs when the central portion of the retina, called the macula, deteriorates gradually over time. This results in blurred vision and blind spots in the central field of vision.
  2. Glaucoma
    Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and can lead to gradual loss of vision if left untreated. When pressure builds up within the eye due to insufficient drainage of fluid, it can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve and result in legal blindness.
  3. Diabetic retinopathy
    Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects blood vessels in the retina and can eventually lead to legal blindness if not managed properly. High levels of sugar in the blood can cause damage to small blood vessels in the retina, resulting in leakage or blockage which affects vision.
  4. Cataracts
    Cataracts occur when there is clouding of the lens inside your eye which leads to blurry or foggy vision. As cataracts progress and become more dense over time, they can significantly impair eyesight and ultimately result in legal blindness if not treated surgically.
  5. Retinitis pigmentosa (RP)
    Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited disorder where cells within the retina degenerate and cause loss of peripheral vision. As the disease progresses, it can lead to tunnel vision and eventually result in legal blindness.
  6. Hereditary diseases
    There are certain genetic conditions that can also cause legal blindness, such as retinoblastoma (a rare cancer of the eye), albinism (lack of pigment in the eyes), and Leber’s congenital amaurosis (a group of inherited retinal diseases).

In addition to these common causes, other factors such as injuries, infections, and side effects from medication or surgery can also contribute to legal blindness. It is important for individuals with any form of visual impairment to seek medical attention and take necessary precautions to prevent further deterioration of their condition. This may include regular eye exams, proper management of chronic health conditions like diabetes, and wearing protective gear during activities that pose a risk for eye injuries. With proper care and treatment, many people with legal blindness are able to live fulfilling lives and continue participating in daily activities with assistance from low-vision aids or devices.

Potential treatments or aids for those who are visually impaired

There are various potential treatments and aids available for individuals who are visually impaired, depending on the type and severity of their condition. These options range from medical interventions to assistive devices that can help improve their daily lives.

One treatment option for those with low vision or legal blindness is undergoing rehabilitation, which includes education and training programs to enhance daily living skills. This can involve learning Braille, how to use adaptive technologies such as screen readers, or strategies for orientation and mobility. Rehabilitation services also offer counseling and support groups to help individuals cope with the emotional effects of visual impairment.

In addition to rehabilitation, there are also medical interventions that may be suitable for certain types of visual impairments. For example, cataract surgery is a common procedure for individuals with age-related vision loss caused by clouding of the lens in the eye. Similarly, laser therapy can correct certain eye conditions like glaucoma or retinal tears.

Another potential aid for those with low vision is using optical devices such as magnifiers or telescopes. These tools can help magnify images and make them easier to see for people with conditions like macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.

Assistive technology has greatly advanced in recent years, providing countless options for visually impaired individuals looking to improve their quality of life. Screen reading software like JAWS (Job Access With Speech) enables users to navigate computers using text-to-speech technology. And voice-activated systems such as Amazon’s Alexa have made it easier for visually impaired individuals to access information hands-free.

In some cases, guide dogs may also be an option for visually impaired individuals who need assistance with mobility. Highly trained guide dogs serve as a “mobile assistant” and can help navigate obstacles while walking safely outdoors.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s level of visual impairment is unique, so what works well for one person may not work as effectively for another. It’s crucial for individuals who are visually impaired to consult with their eye care professional to determine the best course of treatment for their specific condition.

There are various treatments and aids available for those who are visually impaired. With advancements in technology and ongoing research into medical interventions, there is hope for improved vision and increased independence for individuals living with visual impairments. It’s essential to explore all options and find a personalized approach that works best for each individual.

Debunking misconceptions about being legally blind

When people hear the term “legally blind”, there are often many common misconceptions that arise. These misconceptions can lead to stereotypes and misunderstandings about individuals who have a visual impairment. In this section, we will debunk some of the most prevalent myths surrounding being legally blind.

Myth #1: Being legally blind means you have no vision at all.
Fact: This is a common misconception that many people have. In reality, there is a wide range of vision loss within the category of legally blind. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, someone is considered legally blind if they have a corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or less in their better eye, even with glasses or contact lenses. This means that they can see at 20 feet what someone with normal vision can see at 200 feet.

Myth #2: All legally blind individuals use guide dogs or white canes.
Fact: While some individuals who are visually impaired may choose to use these tools for mobility and independence, not all legally blind people do so. Having a guide dog or using a white cane is just one option among a variety of assistive technologies and techniques available to those with visual impairments.

Myth #3: Glasses or contact lenses can fix any level of vision loss.
Fact: While glasses and contacts can greatly improve vision for those with refractive errors such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, they cannot correct certain types of vision loss caused by conditions like glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration. Therefore, wearing glasses does not necessarily disqualify someone from being considered legally blind.

Myth #4: Legal blindness only affects older adults.
Fact: Vision loss and legal blindness can occur at any age due to various factors such as accidents, diseases, and genetic conditions. According to statistics from the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), over half of visually impaired individuals in the United States are of working age (ages 21-64). Thus, it is important to recognize that legal blindness can affect individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

Myth #5: Legally blind people are completely dependent on others for daily tasks.
Fact: While having a visual impairment may require some assistance or accommodations, many legally blind individuals lead independent and fulfilling lives. There are numerous technologies and resources available to help visually impaired individuals navigate their world and complete daily tasks, allowing them to maintain their independence.

By debunking these misconceptions about being legally blind, we hope to promote a better understanding and acceptance of those with visual impairments. It is essential to recognize that individuals who are legally blind can lead full and productive lives with the right support and accommodations.

It is crucial for society to have a better understanding of those with legal blindness and provide them with the necessary support. Legal blindness may be defined by a specific visual acuity or visual field impairment, but its impact on one’s daily life goes beyond just numbers. It affects every aspect of their lives – from education and employment opportunities to social interactions and emotional well-being.

It is important to remember that individuals with legal blindness are not defined by their disability; they are capable, determined, and resilient individuals who simply navigate the world in a different way. By recognizing this fact and promoting inclusivity, we can create a more supportive environment for those with legal blindness.

One of the main challenges faced by individuals with legal blindness is access to education and employment opportunities. Many are often underestimated or overlooked due to their disability, leading to limited opportunities for growth and success. This can contribute to feelings of isolation and lack of self-worth among them.

Moreover, navigating through daily tasks such as reading, cooking, or commuting can be daunting for those with legal blindness without proper support systems in place. Simple tasks that most people take for granted can become time-consuming and challenging for someone with low vision.

Therefore, it is essential for society as a whole to step up and provide adequate support for the visually impaired community. This includes measures such as implementing accessibility options in public spaces, providing assistive technologies in schools/workplaces, offering training programs on how to interact effectively with individuals who have low vision, and promoting inclusive hiring practices.

Additionally, we must also strive towards creating a more inclusive society where individuals with disabilities are not stigmatized but rather embraced for their unique strengths and capabilities. This can greatly improve the confidence and self-esteem of those living with legal blindness.

In conclusion, the importance of understanding and supporting those with legal blindness cannot be emphasized enough. Society has an essential role in creating equal opportunities for people living with this condition. By promoting inclusivity and providing the necessary support, we can empower individuals with legal blindness to live fulfilling and successful lives. So let us all work towards creating a world where everyone is treated with respect and equality regardless of their abilities.

Leave a Comment