Is a Vision of 20/80 Bad?

The Social Security Administration says that a visual acuity of 20/80 is not “bad” enough for a person to be legally blind. The Emory Eye Center says that people with 20/80 vision may need glasses or contact lenses to help them see well enough to do simple things like write a check or read the newspaper.

The Social Security Act says that a person is legally blind if they can see 20/200 or less with their eyes corrected. Since there are no lines between 20/100 and 20/200 on the Snellen acuity chart, also known as the eye chart with the big “E” at the top, Social Security considers anyone who can’t read any letters on the 20/100 line to be legally blind.

People with 20/80 vision can see things from 20 feet away that people with normal or 20/20 vision can see from 80 feet away. The Snellen acuity chart measures how well a patient can see, but it doesn’t say why he can’t see well. Ophthalmic Technician says that doctors work with the patient to find this out and make the necessary changes.

The American Medical Society says that to drive a car in all but three states, a person must have their better eye’s vision fixed to at least 20/40. Drivers who need glasses to meet these rules have licences with restrictions. Commercial drivers have to follow rules set by the federal government that are even stricter than those for other drivers.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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