This guidebook was made possible due to the generosity of the Aid Association for the Blind of the District of Columbia.
Reviewed by the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington Medical Committee.
VISION LOSS IS A SPECTRUM: When we hear the word “blind,” many think of a world with no light at all. However, this is only the case for a small portion of persons who are legally blind. It is important to know, and inform others, that vision loss is a spectrum.
Most Americans either have no visual impairment or some vision loss correctable with prescription eye care or surgery, like cataract or LASIK. However, many live with uncorrectable poor eyesight, even with surgery or prescription eyewear.
Low vision, vision impairment and legal blindness affect millions of Americans. Low vision means our best corrected vision (after exhausting prescription eyewear, surgery, and medicine) has diminished to the point where it interferes with daily activities. Many may live with low vision without ever understanding what it is and what might be helpful.
Legal blindness is a best corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or worse, or a visual field of 20° or less. There are more significant levels of vision loss: 20/400, 20/1000, and light or motion (such as hand motions) only detection. Finally, there is total blindness, where there is no light perception. Very few legally blind persons are totally blind. As we see, a very small proportion of visually impaired and blind individuals are blind to the level many in the general population believe to be “blind.”
This guidebook is designed to be a resource for everyone on the vision loss spectrum, including friends and family of those with vision loss. This guidebook was designed for the greater Washington, or D.C. metropolitan region. While many of the resources and services are available nationally, and state agencies are available where you live, we have focused our content for the community we serve.
Where to Start?: Hundreds of resources and services are available. From state agencies, to reading resources, to rehabilitation programs, the greater Washington D.C. region is full of resources and services for the visually impaired community.
The large number may create confusion and fear at first. We have broken down resources and services by category, and the region they serve. This allows one to identify what they may be looking to address (e.g., reading the newspaper), and what region they live in (e.g., District of Columbia). In addition, many national and regional items will be helpful as well. We also recommend that, along with this guidebook, you consider the following steps that can ease the vision loss transition:
NOTE: The Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington® does not make any endorsements or other guarantees pertaining to these listed resources. This guide is for educational and informational use. Information found through the resources is solely the responsibility of those individuals or organizations distributing it. Any information in this booklet should be discussed with your eye care and healthcare professionals.
This guide is not meant to provide medical or legal information or advice. If you have a medical or legal question, you should ask your doctor or attorney.