What Prescription is Legally Blind

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.

You need to understand being legally blind to obtain several available benefits.

What Does Legally Blind Mean

Your visual acuity and visual field can determine whether you are legally blind. Visual acuity means the sharpness of your vision, whereas the visual field indicates what you can see without moving your eyes.

Legal blindness is defined as having a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in the better eye with corrective lenses or having a visual field of 20 degrees or less in the better eye.

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

Conditions that can lead to legal blindness

What Prescription is Legally Blind?

First, your eye doctor will ask you to look at a visual acuity chart to determine whether you are legally blind. This 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.

Legal blindness based on visual acuity is not determined by prescription strength, such as -2.5 diopters. Instead, it is defined as having 20/200 vision or worse in the better eye with the best possible correction (glasses or contact lenses). 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:

1. Age-related Macular Degeneration

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.

2. Cataracts

Cataracts often happen after the age of 40. They are clouding of the natural lens of the eye, which lies behind the pupil and the iris. This can limit the passing through of lights and gradually cause legal blindness.

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.

4. Glaucoma

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.

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 your required medications. 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 eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The SSDI program allows for higher earnings for individuals who are blind, with specific amounts subject to change annually. For accurate and up-to-date information on earning limits and benefits, consult the Social Security Administration’s official website.

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.

See Also

How to Read Contact Prescription

How Much Are Contacts Without Insurance

Does Medicaid Cover Contacts

Does Medicare Cover Cataract Surgery

Laser Eye Surgery Cost

LASIK Eye Surgery Cost in NJ

Current Version
March 12, 2024
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.
November 27, 2023
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.
January 18, 2023
Written By
Shubham Grover

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