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Inability to perceive visually through the sension of vision throught they eyes is blidness. Blindness is a severe vision impairment, not correctable by standard glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. It interferes with a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.

Legal blidness

“Legal blindness” is defined as vision with best correction in the better eye worse than or equal to 20/200 or a visual field of less than 20 degrees in diameter. “Legal blindness” is significant in determining eligibility for disability benefits from the federal government, but it does not reflect the precise functional impairment and disability. Vision impairment (VI) is defined as having 20/40 or worse vision in the better eye even with eyeglasses. However, people with the slightest VI can experience challenges in their daily activities. For example, people with vision less than 20/40 cannot obtain an unrestricted driver’s license in most states.

The major blinding eye diseases are: cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.


A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. The cataract blocks or changes the passage of light needed for vision. The lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and the colored iris, and normally is transparent. Its role is to help focus images onto the retina (the back layer of the eye), the area that transmits the images to the brain. Cataracts can cause vision to become blurred or dimmed because light cannot be transmitted properly through the lens to the retina.

age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration affects the part of the retina responsible for sharp central vision. There are two forms: dry (non-exudative) and wet (exudative).

diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that affects the tiny blood vessels in the retina of people with diabetes. Diabetes causes the small blood vessels in the retina to become weak and break down or become blocked. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults.


Glaucoma is a group of diseases usually associated with increased pressure within the eye. This pressure can cause damage to the cells that form the optic nerve that carries information from the eye to the brain. The damage is progressive with loss of peripheral vision first, followed by reductions in central vision and, potentially, blindness.

Blindness and irreversible visual impairment cost the federal government more than $4 billion annually. The cost includes treatment, education, loss of personal income, and associated costs, such as Social Security disability benefits.

Blindness and visual impairment can severely affect quality of life. Blind people have difficulty with their daily activities (e.g., driving, reading, sewing, and walking), attaining education, and social interactions.


Topics in Ophthalmology

National Eye Institute Eye Topics
























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