LOW vision to NO vision: Blindness is a SPECTRUM!

Not everyone who looks sighted is fully sighted. Not everyone with a white cane or guide dog is fully blind.

Let's get this information out there!

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and get the conversation going!

This website is a communication from the perspectives of people on the blindness spectrum to the rest of the world. It is hosted by me, Libby Thaw (Enable JavaScript to view protected content.).

Many of us have learned through experience that an awful lot of people are under the impression that there are only 2 eyesight statuses: blind and not blind. If you give them a minute to think about it however, they will say something like, “I have a friend who’s pretty much blind without their glasses”. This gives me a glimmer of hope. You see they already realize that some people who wear glasses have worse vision than others.

So those of us on the spectrum of blindness would like to continue that train of thought and get the idea into the heads of the entire population, that some people whose vision status can accurately be described using the word “blind” have different vision than others.

Yes, lots of us have vision!

That is not to say that there is no such thing as complete blindness. Some people lose all of their eyesight due to illness or injury. Some people are born with no eyesight. The general public can grasp that idea more easily it seems than the sizeable range in between no sight and full sight.

What is the blindness spectrum?

The blindness spectrum is the vast range between legally blind and totally blind.

“Low vision to no vision”.

What is legally blind?

Legally blind is the measurable threshold at which a person’s eyesight is diminished to the point that they would qualify for legal/governmental assistance.

The measurements are: an acuity of 20/200 (6/60 if measuring in meters) in the better eye with best correction by glasses or contact lenses, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less. The normal visual field is 135 degrees vertically and 180 degrees horizontally.

What does 20/20 or 6/6 vision mean?

It represents the acuity expected of average healthy eyes as measured using the Snellen eye chart.

The first number represents you: “I can see at 20 feet or 6 meters

The second number represents the average person: “What someone with average vision can see at 20 feet or 6 meters.”

So if you have 20/200 vision, you can see from 20 feet what the average person can see at 200 feet, and you are legally blind.

How do people on the blindness spectrum see?

We could generalize and say "not very well", but the real answer is that everyone is different so you'd have to ask each individual. Each person is unique and eye conditions can also vary greatly. Different conditions or injury can cause different types of impairments and each impairment can very in the degree to which it effects a person's eyesight. The state of some people's vision can vary depending on things like lighting, how rested they are, or stress level.

Here are some depictions of a few types of blindness.

A simulation of tunnel vision

Tunnel Vision

Glaucoma and retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) are 2 of the possible causes of tunnel vision. This is a loss of peripheral vision resulting in just a small field of useful eyesight.

The size of the visual field can vary as can the degree to which the periphery is obscured.

People with tunnel vision may be able to read regular print without augmentation. In fact, large print may be inaccessible for a person who has tunnel vision.

A simulation of loss of central vision

Loss of Central Vision

Stargardt’s Disease and Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)are 2 possible causes of a loss of central vision.

Since the central vision is essential for detail, this type of vision loss renders reading and facial recognition difficult.

The size of the blind spot can vary greatly so the degree to which the individual experiences inaccessibility can vary a great deal also.

A simulation of blurry vision


Blurry vision is the loss of sharpness of eyesight, making objects appear out of focus and hazy.

Neurological disorders and Cataracts are 2 possible causes of blurry vision.

Cataracts can sometimes be corrected by surgery but can also cause permanent vision loss.

Myopia is the most common cause of blurriness and is correctable with glasses or contact lenses so it is not considered a type of blindness.