The world can be a very complicated place, especially when the term “legally” is used to define anything medical. People have preconceived notions of ailments and often bring that notion into any conversation, no matter what adjective may be used to define the ailment. Typically that is perfectly fine, and quite normal. However, the term “legally” changes a medical definition to a legal definition. “Legally blind” is no exception. This term does not mean a person is blind, it means their vision is severely impaired, allowing them rights or removing rights as the government sees fit.
The Definition of Legally Blind
A person wearing eye glasses may be able to see with their eyewear. However, that same person may be considered “legally blind.” A person is defined as such when their vision reaches a degree determined by the government and their medical counsel, that would impair a person’s vision to a point they cannot drive, as they would be a risk to others and themselves, or they can receive disability services, whether they be educational, service, or monetary services from the government. As of today, this level is defined as 20/200 or less in the better eye, even with the use of the best lenses to correct vision or a limitation in your line of sight that is no greater than 20 degrees. To put this into perspective, a person may have poor eyesight, but may not be considered legally blind, and a legally blind person may still be able to see, however, that vision is greatly curbed.
Legally blind in Layman’s Terms
Unless you are a doctor or scientist, the above definition may sound a bit mumbled. The truth is, you may be able to understand the terms, “legally blind” more accurately if you are given examples. A person with normal vision can obviously read the big “E” n the eye chart with no problem. Most of the letters on the first eye chart seen in a doctor’s office, or even a fun poster, are easily visible to anyone with 20/20 vision. A legally blind person will have to struggle to read that page and will not be able to see anything at a longer distance. In regards to line of vision, if this is causing you to be determined legally blind, you will have no problem reading any letters on the eye chart. However, you will have little to no peripheral vision. This means that you will not be able to see your own hand raised next to your head, let alone a person standing next to you.
Legally blind individuals may not always be legally blind. Moreover, being determined legally blind may eventually lead to blindness, depending on the reason you have been diagnosed as such. Some people who are considered legally blind may experience treatment that can help return their sight to normal. Others will never have normal sight again. While some people are born legally blind, other causes of the diagnosis include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. The most valuable method to help stay ahead of your sight, is to see your eye doctor for regular vision exams. If oyu are in need of a local eye doctors in the Philadelphia area or want a second opinion, contact the experts at Rittenhouse Eye Associates at 215.525.6821.