Blindness is a lack or loss of vision that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. A person is considered “legally blind” when their vision is worse than 20/200. Most people who use the term “blindness” refer to being unable to see anything or unable to see any light. However, the majority of people considered legally blind can actually see “something,” like light, shadows, vague outlines or rough shapes.
Blindness can be caused by any number of issues, but the most common are injuries to the eye, diabetes, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Approximately 700,000 people in the US meet the legal definition of blindness.
The treatments available for blindness depend on the cause. Medications or surgeries may help, but often blindness is irreversible. Early intervention can be helpful in slowing the progression of blindness, though generally treatment involves receiving guidance and learning how to function with a visual impairment.
Although blindness can pose some challenges to those that are affected, people who are blind are just as capable of functioning and going about daily activities as people with perfect vision. Blindness does not affect everyone in the same way and those who have it can make their own unique decisions about how to manage it.
Some choose to use assistive devices such as canes or service dogs, while others do not. Blindness can be a visible or invisible condition. Many blind people do not fit into societal conceptions or stereotypes of what a person with blindness looks like.
Early intervention services, support groups and awareness organizations are all available for people with blindness and can often provide a great deal of assistance and resources. Research continues in the hopes of finding new technologies that can reverse blindness.