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What Treatments Are Available for the Legally Blind?

By T. Carrier
Updated May 17, 2024
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Individuals who are legally blind may have various visual capabilities. As such, treatments are often considered based on the amount of loss of vision and the source of the blindness. Restorative sight options like surgery are available for individuals with temporary blindness. Visual aids such as magnification devices could prove beneficial for those individuals with partial vision. Most legally blind individuals, regardless of visual ability, can enhance quality of life with mobility aids and methods designed specifically for the visually impaired, such as braille.

Definitions of legal blindness may vary around the world. In the United States, for example, an individual who has 20/200 vision or lower is usually considered legally blind. This generally means that the individual can distinguish an object from 20 feet away that a person with average sight can distinguish from 200 feet away. In the most severe cases of partial blindness, the individual may only perceive some degree of light. Total blindness is another possible diagnosis, meaning the individual has no sight perception whatsoever.

Depending on the nature of the blindness, several treatment options are available for the legally blind. If the blindness is due to an underlying condition like a parasite infection or cataracts, treatment of the condition may alleviate visual symptoms. Such measures could range from antibiotics to surgery.

Surgical procedures may also be available for certain types of eye damage. For example, injury to the retina via a traumatic blow or deterioration could possibly be corrected with a retinal transplant. In transplant procedures, the malfunctioning structure is replaced with a healthy structure from a donor. Researchers are also investigating the benefits of stem cell transplants for visual conditions.

For some blindness conditions, however, corrective treatments are not feasible. These conditions may include genetically rooted problems or brain damage incurred to sight centers like the visual cortex. In such cases, the legally blind individual should consider visual aids that assist in daily activities. Mobility aids like walking canes or trained seeing eye dogs will likely improve an individual’s ability to navigate past unseen objects. Assistance in obtaining these aids and other therapeutic options is available via special government programs in many regions.

For individuals who retain residual vision, reading aids may be beneficial as well. Several software programs and magnification devices enlarge text on computer screens, for example. In addition, prescription glasses can aid individuals in recognizing all types of written text. More profound sight deficiencies may necessitate different aids such as familiarity with braille, which is a system of raised dots that is applied to text-based materials.

Perhaps the most invaluable treatment for blindness is preventive treatment, as research indicates that most forms of blindness worldwide are preventable. Improved healthcare can curb infection and nutrition-based blindness. Proper diet and healthy eating habits can also curtail the latter concern. As for traumatic injuries like those incurred in manufacturing accidents, goggles and other forms of eye protection are invaluable.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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