Medical Definition of Legal blindness

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Legal blindness: The criteria used to determine eligibility for government disability benefits and which do not necessarily indicate a person's ability to function. In the US, the criteria for legal blindness are:

  • Visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in the better eye with corrective lenses (20/200 means that a person at 20 feet from an eye chart can see what a person with normal vision can see at 200 feet);

or

  • Visual field restriction to 20 degrees diameter or less (tunnel vision) in the better eye.

Note that the definition of legal blindness differs from country to country and that the criteria listed above are for the US.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018