legally blind

The Real Meaning of “Legally Blind”

Most people confuse legally blind with complete blindness. Anyone who is diagnosed as legally blind will tell you this is a misnomer that can negatively affect a person’s life unless it is correctly explained. The truth is, a person who is completely blind cannot see anything in any direction with any assistance. Scientifically speaking, their eye lens does not reflect any amount of light. They require walking sticks and service animals to help navigate their way around the world. They read with the help of Braille and require numerous special accommodations. As a result, they will not drive, nor can they serve their country in the military or police force. Moreover, they have heightened senses of sound, taste, touch, and smell to help accommodate for their complete loss of sight. People who are completely blind are legally blind, however not all legally blind individuals are completely blind.

The Definition of Legally Blind

A person is considered legally blind when this person has a level of sight deprivation that helps him or her qualify for federal and state disability benefits. The law has defined this level as 20/200 vision in one or both eyes, or worse, even with the help of corrective lenses. In order to break this concept down a bit further, a person is legally blind if he or she must stand only 20 feet away for an object to see it clearly. This same object can be seen by a normally sighted individual at 200 feet away.

Legally Blind Lifestyle

The good news is that people who are legally blind are not completely locked out of life. Many states allow a legally blind person to drive, under certain, specific circumstances. Many times a legally blind individual will still be able to enjoy reading a book or even watching television, with specific accommodations.

People can either be born legally blind or develop this impairment over time. Some of the causes of legal blindness include cataracts, diabetes, and glaucoma. Depending on the cause of the impairment, legal blindness may be reversed, especially in the case of cataracts.

Lasik surgery may or may not be an option for a person who is legally blind. Depending on the cause for this impairment, Lasik surgery may be able to help improve a person’s eyesight. However, a truly legally blind individual has poor vision with corrective lenses. Therefore, this person may never be able to see without corrective lenses. That being said, the Lasik procedure may be able to take their impaired vision to a healthier, normal level of impairment, as opposed to an almost debilitating level. The key is to make sure that the reason for your legal blindness is not a degenerative disease. Instead, it needs to be directly related to your eyes’ natural lenses and their natural ability to reflect light.

To learn more about legal blindness and the steps you can take to help live with it or even repair it to a point, contact the experts at Rittenhouse Eye Associates at (215) 525-6821.

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