What is Considered Legally Blind

What is considered legally blind?

What is Considered Legally Blind?

Sight preservation requires a long-term commitment to care as an investment that pays off for a lifetime. Almost everyone wants to do whatever it takes to avoid blindness but may not know how to do it. Knowledge of proper care starts with regular eye examinations that detect conditions that can affect your sight. Maintaining a healthy weight, wearing eye protection, and eating a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can help care for your eyes. However, blindness may occur at various levels of severity.

Understanding What Legally Blind Means

Vision that cannot achieve better than 20/200 in a person’s best-seeing eye with correction qualifies as legally blind. Someone with normal vision has a 10 times better ability to see than a legally blind person.

The 20/200 measure means that someone with normal vision can see an object clearly at 200 feet while a legally blind person cannot see it at more than a 20-foot distance. In addition, someone with normal vision can see objects on the left and right at the same time, a span of 180 degrees. The vision field for a legally blind person has a limit of only 20 degrees. Beyond 2020 Vision Specialists in Odessa can conduct an exam that tests the visual acuity of your eyes and determines legal blindness.

Finding the Difference Between Legally Blind and Completely Blind

The Social Security Act of 1935 adopted the American Medical Association’s legal definition of blindness. The federal government uses it to identify people who qualify for disability and other benefits. Complete blindness means a total lack of the ability to see light.

Considering the Causes of Legal Blindness

People who qualify as legally blind have some vision that may benefit from correction. As vision changes, corrective measures may help preserve or even improve it if an eye doctor knows about it. Regular eye exams can detect problems in the early stages, but any sudden vision changes require immediate attention. Leading causes of legal blindness include cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. Beyond 2020 Vision Specialists in Odessa offers convenient access to diagnosis and excellent eye care.


The slow development of cataracts over time can prevent you from noticing them, but they make it harder to read or drive at night. Stronger lighting and glasses may help for a while until you exhaust your patience in dealing with impaired vision. When the cloudiness of cataracts affects only a small area of your eye’s lens, you may not think anything of it. They get larger, however, clouding more of your lens and distorting images. While the thought of an eye operation may seem off-putting, advances in cataract surgery make it generally a very safe and effective procedure. Some symptoms to watch for include sensitivity to glare, seeing a halo around a bright light, and needing more light when you read. Cataracts rank as the leading cause of blindness worldwide.


Eye exams include a test for glaucoma, a condition that treatment can help control. However, millions of Americans do not realize they have it. Glaucoma can cause you to see halos around lights as cataracts do, but it can cause permanent vision loss without treatment. Early detection can slow or prevent the progression of glaucoma with measurements of the pressure in your eyes. It usually affects people over the age of 60, often with no warning. You may expect the condition, once discovered, to require treatment throughout your life.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Another condition that robs the sight of many who do not know they have it, is diabetic retinopathy allows elevated blood sugar to damage cells in the retina gradually. The risk increases the longer you have diabetes, but it can occur to anyone who has a metabolic disorder. Early detection with a diabetic eye exam may offer ways to slow its progress. Early stages often present no symptoms, but they can include blurry vision, floating spots, flashing lights, or pain over time.

Macular Degeneration

A condition that develops slowly and without pain, macular degeneration has no known cure. Vision loss does not usually occur in the early stage, showing the importance of regular eye exams. Age poses the greatest risk factor as the condition usually occurs after age 55, but it may start sooner. The dry form of macular degeneration does not affect seeing things on side vision and rarely causes total blindness. Serious vision loss may occur from the wet type.

Detecting Causes of Legal Blindness

Beyond 2020 Vision Specialists can detect the leading causes of legal blindness and give patients options for preventive care or treatment. A convenient location at 16230 State Road 54 in Suncoast Crossings shopping center next to the Suncoast Parkway gives Odessa, Cheval, and Trinity immediate access to amazing eye care near you.