What Prescription is Legally Blind – Overview
The definition of legal blindness can often confuse people. It is not easy to differentiate between being completely blind and being legally blind.
Whether your prescription is legally blind or not, it can affect multiple things. From your ability to receive a driving license to receive different government disability benefits, legally blind prescriptions can have an impact on everything.
It is important for you to understand the concept of being legally blind to obtain several available benefits.
What Does Legally Blind Mean?
Your visual acuity and visual field can determine if you are legally blind or not. Visual acuity means the sharpness of your vision, whereas the visual field indicates what you are able to see without moving your eyes.
If your visual field is less than 20 degrees, you can be considered legally blind. On the other hand, if your visual equity is 20/200 or less, even with your contact lenses or glasses, you can be considered legally blind.
This definition is applied to everyone, including individuals with limited eyesight, which impacts their employment, mobility, and daily life activities. Even individuals with total blindness can be diagnosed with this definition.
What Prescription is Legally Blind?
To determine if you are legally blind or not, first, your eye doctor will ask you to look at a visual acuity chart. This visual acuity chart generally contains mixed letters that you must read from a distance of 20 feet.
The main purpose of this eye test is to compare your eyesight to a historical norm. After analyzing the result, if the doctor finds your vision to be 20/200 or less, you will be considered legally blind.
Your eye doctor will also give you a visual field test to determine your field of vision. If the test results indicate that your peripheral vision is 20 degrees or less, they can diagnose you as legally blind.
A legally blind prescription generally is -2.5 or lower; it indicates your visual acuity of 20/200 vision is equivalent to a visual acuity of -2.5. With this prescription, you can check your eyesight power and get a pair of corrective glasses if necessary.
What Can Lead to Legal Blindness?
Multiple health conditions can cause legal blindness. Early diagnosis and proper treatment can often prevent you from developing legal blindness.
Here are some conditions that can lead to legal blindness:
Age-related macular degeneration is a visual change that can cause blurry vision over time. The macula is a small portion of your retina. In this condition, your macula deteriorates and causes central vision loss or legal blindness.
Cataracts often happen after the age of 40. It is a clouding of the natural lens of your eye. This lies behind your pupil and the iris; it can limit the passing through lights and cause legal blindness gradually.
3. Diabetic Retinopathy
Your retina can be severely damaged due to diabetes, especially when the condition is poorly managed. However, you can prevent it with early detection, regular eye check-up, and different management techniques.
Glaucoma is generally caused by excessive pressure inside your eyes. This high fluid pressure can damage your optic nerve and your retina. The optic nerve transfers information from your eyes to your brain. If the pathway is somehow damaged, it can lead to legal blindness over time.
There are a few conditions that can cause legal blindness.
- Optic neuritis and neuropathy: Optic nerve damage
- Congenital cataracts: Clouding of a newborn’s lenses
- Retinopathy or prematurity: Disruption of retinal growth
- Congenital glaucoma: Retinal damage in newborn
- Keratoconus: Gradual thinning of the cornea
Eye damage due to some genetic condition, trauma, or injury can also cause legal blindness in people.
Treatments of Legal Blindness
The treatment of legal blindness mostly depends on the cause and condition of your visual impairment.
If some age-related disease causes your condition, the doctors will prescribe the medications you require. They can also suggest some eye procedures to delay vision loss.
The main goal of your glaucoma treatment is to lower the pressure inside your eyes. Doctors can suggest oral medications and some eye drops. Laser treatments or surgery are sometimes advisable to prevent further damage.
Patients with glaucoma need careful observation. Close monitoring can help the doctor to determine the required treatment plan and prevent your condition.
The doctor can perform surgery to remove the clouded lens if the patient has cataracts.
What Benefits Does a Legally Blind Person Get?
According to the Social Security Administration or SSA, legal blindness is a qualified disability. Individuals who have been blind since birth and people who experience severe vision loss due to different conditions can also be considered legally blind.
If you are legally blind, you may be entitled to receive SSDI or Social Disability Insurance Benefits. With this benefit, you can earn almost $2,460 monthly in 2023. The earning limit for workers who are not blind but have certain disabilities is around $1,470.(1)
However, these earning limits are not fixed. They can change every year depending on multiple factors.
Individuals who are legally blind can also be eligible for SSI or Supplemental Security Income.
Being legally blind is not always similar to being completely blind. Legal blindness can occur due to multiple health conditions. However, with early diagnosis, regular check-ups, and appropriate treatment plans, it is possible to prevent conditions like legal blindness.