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PRCIL offers information on low vision, blindness

PALESTINE, August 28, 2014— Low vision is a condition caused by eye disease in which visual acuity is 20/70 or poorer in the better-seeing eye and cannot be corrected or improved with regular eyeglasses.  Low vision is uncorrectable vision loss that interferes with daily activities. It is better defined in terms of function rather than test results. In other words, low vision is ‘not enough vision to do whatever it is you need to do’, which can vary from person to person. Most eye care professionals prefer to use the term ‘low vision’ to describe permanently reduced vision that cannot be corrected with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery.

Legal blindness is a definition developed by the US government to determine eligibility for vocational training, rehabilitation, schooling, disability benefits, low vision devices, and tax exemption programs. It is not a functional low vision definition and does not tell us very much at all about what a person can and cannot see. Visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better-seeing eye with regular glasses or contact lenses. A person with a visual field, the total area an individual can see without moving the eyes from side to side, of 20 degrees or less in the better-seeing eye is also diagnosed as legally blind.

The terms light perception and light projection describe the ability to perceive the difference between light and dark, or daylight and night time. A person can have severely reduced vision and still be able to determine the difference between light and dark, or the general source and direction of a light.

The stereotypical assumption, which is generally not accurate, is that people who are blind or have low vision, live in a type of ‘blackness’ that sighted people see when they close their eyes. Although every person sees differently, including persons with low vision, an individual who has light perception/projection can perceive the presence or absence of light. Some people describe light perception knowing when a room light is on or off, or being able to walk toward a lighted lamp on a table in an otherwise darkened room.

Total blindness is the complete lack of light perception and form perception and is recorded as “NLP”, an abbreviation for ‘no light perception’. Few people today are totally without sight. In fact, 85% of all individuals with eye disorders have some remaining sight; approximately 15% are totally blind.

Low vision optical devices can make it possible for one to do various tasks such as reading, crafting, and preparing meals. For more information about low vision, blindness, or assistive technology, contact the Palestine Resource Center for Independent Living (PRCIL), 421 Avenue A, Palestine, Texas, 903-729-7505.

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