March 2nd, 2021
3 min read

Common Types of Visual Impairments/Low Vision

Approximately 32.2 million adult Americans have “trouble seeing”, are visually impaired, or are completely blind (per American Foundation for the Blind). In addition, only a fraction of Americans who are visually impaired are totally blind, and the level and type of visual impairment vary amongst people. People considered “legally blind” have a medically diagnosed central vision acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction, and/or a visual field of 20 degrees or less (per American Foundation for the Blind). Below are some common low vision and visual impairments with images of what it might look like to have it.

An example of what blurry vision might look like.

Blurred Vision and Night Blindness

Blurred vision causes both near and far to appear to be out of focus, even with the best conventional spectacle correction possible. The primary causes of blurred vision are refractive errors. Cloudy vision, where objects are obscured and appear "milky," is very similar to blurry vision. Cloudy vision usually is a symptom of specific conditions such as cataracts. On the other hand, Night blindness results in the inability to see outside at night under starlight or moonlight or in dimly lighted interior areas such as movie theaters or restaurants.

An example of what loss of central vision might look like.

Loss of Central Vision

The loss of central vision creates a blur or blindspot, but side (peripheral) vision remains intact. This makes it difficult to read, recognize faces and distinguish most details in the distance. It is often caused by macular degeneration. In macular degeneration, the macula in the eye wears down and becomes thin, losing its ability to function well. Central vision loss can also be caused by diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels in the retina, and early symptoms include floaters and dark areas of vision.

An example of what loss of peripheral vision might look like.

Loss of Peripheral Vision

Loss of peripheral vision is an inability to distinguish anything to one side or both sides or anything directly above and/or below eye level. Central vision remains, however, making it possible to see directly ahead. This is sometimes referred to as "tunnel vision."

There are many more types of visual impairments and blindness that can impact a person’s life. Many visually impaired and blind individuals will benefit greatly from a guide dog partner. Guide dogs give their partners the confidence to navigate the world.


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