Legal blindness is a serious issue, much more serious than many of us living our lives normally could comprehend and care about. And if you’re wondering what the difference between blindness and legal blindness is, here is how the US government wants us to perceive it:
This makes about 3% (approximately 3.4 million) of the adult US population, i.e. people aged 40 or above, legally blind or visually impaired (with visual acuity less than or equal to 20/40).
Complete blindness refers to your inability to see light in any form or way, whereas legal blindness means you can see, but not as sharply and clearly as people with normal vision (having 20/20 visual acuity) can. Among people with eye disorders, there are no more than 15% (approximately) who are unable to see anything at all.
The good news is that more and more people and organizations are joining hands in helping people with legal blindness and low vision conditions to embrace their circumstances. They do so by resorting to different means and resources like low vision aids and macular degeneration glasses to make the best use of their leftover vision.
Highlights of 2018’s Legally Blind Events
In fact, many of such events have turned into annualized affairs and 2019 is no different. That is why we at IrisVision have compiled a list of events legally blind should attend in 2019. But first, let’s have a look at some of the highlights of 2018.
For instance, CSUN Assistive Technology Conference was held in March 2018, attended and appreciated by many, including keynote speakers like Daniel Goldstein, who co-received Paul Hearne Award for Disability Rights Advocacy by the American Bar Association along with Marc Maurer, then President of the NFB. You can learn more about it here.
Similarly, VISIONS2018 Conference turned in a lot of audience, thanks to the bunch of researchers, academicians and industry gurus who imparted their knowledge, ideas, experiences and observations to put up a highly informational and beneficial show. Some prominent names included Benjamin Bakall (MD, PhD, University of Arizona, Phoenix), Dennis Clegg, PhD (University of California, Santa Barbara), Neva Fairchild (Federation for the Blind), Lauren Ayton, PhD (Bionic Eye Technologies) and so many more. You can catch the highlights of VISION2018 Conference here.
And then there’s “THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLIND VETERANS” who are eager in contributing to the wellbeing of our veterans suffering from various types of vision loss and low vision conditions. They put up an amazing show annually on the “National Convention of the National Association of Blind Veterans”.
This event is focused primarily on the education and development of its members, harnessing the vision of the top leadership of the department of Veterans Affairs (VA), knowledge of notable academics, exposure of industry specialists and experiences of government officials. 2018 was a huge success and so will be the 2019’s convention. You can relive some of the bright moments of the 2018’s convention here.
And now to the list of top events legally blind should attend in 2019:
Top Events Legally Blind Should Attend in 2019
Date: 01/28/2019 – 01/31/2019
- Event: Foundation Fighting Blindness Events (Foundation Fighting Blindness hosts an array of events all through the year – starting from January’ 19 – at varied locations across the U.S.)
Date: 02/14/2019 – 02/15/2019
Date: 02/14/2019 – 02/15/2019
- Event: 34th CSUN Conference
Date: 03/11/2019 – 03/15/2019
- Event: VISION EXPO EAST
Date: 03/21/2019 – 03/24/2019
- Event: ENVISION CONFERENCE EAST
Date: 03/22/2019 – 03/23/2019
Date: 03/28/2019 – 03/29/2019
Date: 04/10/2019 – 04/12/2019
Date: 04/15/2019 – 04/18/2019
Date: 05/17/2019 – 05/18/2019
Date: 06/16/2019 – 06/22/2019
Date: 07/07/2019 – 07/12/2019
Date: 07/07/2019 – 07/12/2019
- Event: VISION EXPO WEST
Date: 09/18/2019 – 09/21/2019
- Event: ENVISION CONFERENCE WEST
Date: 10/05/2019 – 10/06/2019
Date: 10/12/2019 – 10/15/2019
Legal blindness qualifies people for certain benefits by the government, such as disability or job training, but only after robbing them of their ability to see the world around them normally (which also includes not being able to see the faces of their loved ones in many cases).
One of the best lines of defense against legal blindness and vision loss is to gain as much knowledge and awareness about them as possible using as many platforms as possible, but first of all, you need to be aware of what’s going on with your eyes and vision.
Major Eye Disorders Leading to Legal Blindness
There are many common eye problems, but a few of them are most likely to lead a person to legal blindness and vision loss. These include age related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
1: Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): In Americans aged 60 or above, Age Related Macular Degeneration leads more people to vision loss than any other eye disease. A person is said to be affected by AMD when macula (the inner most region within the retina) starts deteriorating and degenerating. Since macula plays the most vital role in offering sharp, clear central vision, anyone affected with AMD is deprived of it, making activities like reading and driving impossible over time.
2: Cataracts: According to studies, more than half of American adults aged 80 or above end up having a cataract, which refers to the clouding or blurring of the lens present in our eyes. A host of reasons ranging from trauma to diabetes and genetic disorders can turn out to be the causative agents for cataracts.
3: Diabetic Retinopathy: More than 4 million American adults aged 40 or above are estimated to be the victims of this diabetic eye disease, affecting their vision in various different manners. Diabetic retinopathy involves abrupt changes in blood vessels constituting the retina tissues at the back of the eye.
4: Glaucoma: Glaucoma is yet another major reason behind legal blindness as well as vision loss in Americans. Research indicates that more than 2 million of US citizens are victimized at the hands of this eye disorder, with only half of them knowing that they are suffering from it. Glaucoma affects vision by increased fluid pressure inside the eyeball, resultantly damaging the optic nerve.
So, now let’s hope you can make the most of your attendance to any legally blind events or other such vision related programs with all these resources and platforms at your disposal.