What are Visual Impairments?

There are a number of terms used to describe the visual impairments people may have: partially sighted, low vision, legally blind and totally blind.


Partially sighted indicates there is some type of visual problem.  Low vision generally refers to a severe visual impairment not necessarily limited to distance vision.  Low vision applies to all individuals with sight who are unable to read the newspaper at a normal viewing distance, even with the use of glasses or contact lenses.


Legally blind indicates a person who sees at 20 feet what others see at 200 feet in the better eye, or a person with a very limited field of vision.  Totally blind means without sight at all.


Visual impairment refers to the functional loss of vision rather than the disorder that may have caused it.  Eye disorders that can lead to visual impairments can include retinal degeneration, albinism, cataracts, glaucoma, muscular problems that result in visual disturbances, corneal disorders, diabetic complications, congenital disorders and infections.


The effect of visual problem’s on a child’s development depends on the severity, type of loss and the age at which the condition appears.  Many children who have multiple disabilities may also have visual impairments, which contribute to developmental delays.


If you would like further information on visual impairments please contact the Commission for the Blind at 517-373-2062 or visit them online at www.michigan.gov/dleg.  Click on Agencies and Commissions, then on Michigan Commission for the Blind.


Phone code: 1717

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