An estimated 1.1 million Americans are legally blind. “Legal blindness” is a term created by the government, which decides certain benefits the person may receive. The benefits can include disability or job training. Being legally blind is not the same as being totally blind. It is still possible to see just not clearly.
The Sight of the Legally Blind
A person with normal vision can see 20/20, meaning an object can be seen clearly 20 feet away. To be considered legally blind a person’s vision is 20/200 or less. To see an object clearly a legally blind person must stand 20 feet away to see it clearly. With normal vision, a person can see the item from 200 feet away. If a person sees 20/20 with glasses then the person is not legally blind. A person can only be legally blind if they cannot see 20/200 while wearing glasses.
People use the term “legally blind” because there are many ways of being blind. Many believe that blind people can only see darkness or nothing at all. Being blind can still mean seeing some colors or light or able to see better in some areas in the field of vision while others are blurry or absent.
- Normal vision is 20/20
- Legally blind vision is 20/200 or less
- There are many different ways of being legally blind
- It is possible to still see color or light
What it’s like to be Legally Blind?
The vision of someone who is legally blind varies from person to person. An example is being able to see objects at a distance, but not in the peripheral vision (side vision). A lack of vision can inhibit your ability to drive a car. The department of motor vehicles decides based on a doctor’s assessment and keeps our roads safe from those who have trouble seeing.
Some people have experienced full sight, while others have lived their entire lives with low vision. How well someone can see with low vision depends on internal and external factors, such as lighting in a room, the weather outside, and tiredness. The American Foundation for the Blind can help the legally blind with programs that help deal with the physical and emotional effects of vision loss. Being legally blind affects your vision, but it doesn’t have to stop you from leading a fulfilling life.
- Vision of the legally blind is different from person to person
- Those with severe low vision cannot drive a car
- External and internal factors effect the sight of someone with low vision
- There are programs to deal with the physical and emotion needs of low vision
Age-Related Legal Blindness
There are four leading causes of blindness in the United States that primarily effect the elderly.
1. Age-related Macular Degeneration
The leading cause of vision loss in Americans that are 60 years old and older. The central portion of the retina deteriorates, leading to blurriness in the central vision causing problems in reading and driving.
More than half of Americans by the age of 80 have had a cataract. It is a clouding of the lens that blurs vision, resulting from genetic disorders, diabetes, or trauma to the eye.
3. Diabetic Retinopathy
An estimated 4 million over the age of 40 are affected by this diabetic eye disease. High blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina.
An estimated over 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half of them know they have it. Fluid builds up in the front part of the eye and the extra fluid increases pressure, damaging the optic nerve.
Who’s at Risk?
Blindness is most common in people who are 65 years old or older. The prevalence of blindness rises by age. African-Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk for developing diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. This creates a higher chance for developing blindness and vision impairment. Macular degeneration is most commonly developed by Caucasians. Males are less likely to be affected by blindness and visual impairment as women are. The number of blind and visually impaired people is estimated to double by 2030.
- 1 million Americans are legally blind
- 12 million Americans are visually impaired
- Blindness is most common in the ages 65 and older
- Diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma are more likely to develop in Hispanics and African Americans
- Caucasians have a higher risk of developing macular degeneration
- Males are less affected by blindness than women
How Many People are Legally Blind?
There are more than one million Americans that are legally blind and 12 million that are visually impaired. These numbers are estimated to double by 2030. Glaucoma effects more than 2 million Americans with only half knowing they have it. More than half of all Americans have had a cataract by the age of 80.
NuEyes Helping the Legally Blind
NuEyes ODG Smartglasses are allowing the visually impaired to lead a normal life by granting the gift of sight.
1. What Can you See?
NuEyes featuring ODG Smartglasses takes what the user is looking at and puts it directly in front of their eyes. This allows the user to fully see their surroundings. Also, it is possible to adjust the brightness, contrast, and color of what the user sees. Due to magnification from 1x-12x in Nueyes ODG Smartglasses it is possible for users to control the Smartglasses based on their needs.
- Puts images directly in front of eyes
- Able to fully see surroundings
- Adjust brightness, contrast, and color of image
- 1x-12x magnification
- Control based on needs
2. What Freedom do they Allow?
A hands-free device allows use of both hands while the low vision glasses enable vision. The head-worn display for low vision is voice activated, has an adjustable HD camera, wireless battery powered, and can browse the web, emails, and social media. Michael A. Samuel, a retina specialist, says, “A device like this allows them to take this technology outside of the home to places they want to go. It expands their ability to live their life a little bit more than they did before.” This wearable technology is the future for patients with low vision, allowing them the ability to see in stores, restaurants, and anywhere they wish to go.
- A hands-free device allowing freedom and sight
- A head-worn display that is voice activated
- An Adjustable HD camera
- Wireless and battery powered
- Browse the web, emails, and social media
- Ability to see in stores, restaurants, and etc.
3. What are the Details?
An HD digital camera mounted on the center bridge of the frames streams images to built-in 3D stereoscopic HD display lenses. An LED light helps to see in dark environments. A touch interface on the temples of the smartglasses provides haptic feedback, a vibration when touched to alert that it’s been pressed. The NuEyes ODG smartglasses are auto focus with high definition optics, other features include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a GPS sensor. Magnification is available up to 12x, allowing sight of people or objects in close detail. A sensor within the NuEyes ODG smartglasses reads the barometric pressure and humidity in the user’s environment.
- An LED light for dark environments
- A touch interface with haptic feedback
- Autofocusing high definition optics
- Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS sensor
- Magnification up to 12x
- Barometric pressure and humidity sensors