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Frequently Asked Questions about Vision Loss and Blindness

Q: What is the leading cause of blindness?

A: The leading cause of vision loss or blindness in people under age 60 is diabetic retinopathy. In people over age 60, it is macular degeneration.

Q: What does it mean to be considered legally blind?

A: A visual acuity of less than 20/200 in the best eye, with best correction, or, in other words, while wearing glasses or contact lenses, vision is less than 20/200.

20/200 means that what a “normal” eye can see from 200 feet, the legally blind person must be 20 feet away from the same object to see it.

Legal blindness also can be a visual field of less than 20 degrees. This is called tunnel vision. A normal visual field has about 180 degrees in the visual field.

Q: Are all legally blind people totally blind?

A: No, fewer than 10% of legally blind people are totally blind.

Q: What are the fees for your services?

A: We provide flexible service plans for services for older adults looking to build their adaptive techniques and skills, ultimately to reduce anxiety about vision loss and reduce reliance on caregivers for help with daily tasks. Sliding fee services ensure that financial constraints are never a barrier to receiving the services and support needed for increased independence.

Students entering the Rehabilitation Center can inquire about services covered by the Minnesota State Service for the Blind or Division of Rehabilitation Services, or their home state’s vocational rehabilitation office.

Q: How is Vision Loss Resources different from State Services for the Blind?

A: Vision Loss Resources is a private, not-for-profit organization. State Services for the Blind is an agency of the State of Minnesota. The two organizations work together in many instances to provide services to people with vision loss.

Q: I see people who don’t look blind using white canes. What’s the deal?

A: Fewer than 10% of legally blind people are totally blind. Many legally blind people have usable vision, but require a white cane for safe travel. Many people with serious vision problems do not “look blind.”

Q: Why can’t I pet a guide dog?

A: Guide dogs are working very hard to correctly guide their owners. Any distraction can result in the dog losing its concentration and potentially putting the person in an unsafe situation. Even when a guide dog is at rest, the dog never should be touched without the owner’s permission.

Q: Where can I get a magnifier that will magnify an entire page and make the words big?

A: Whole-page magnifiers tend to be less than 2X magnification, and often present a blurry image. Unfortunately, the stronger a magnifier is, the smaller it is. The exception to this is a closed circuit TV reading system (CCTV, for short), which magnifies by using a powerful camera lens. The magnified material is shown on a screen, similar to a television. Contact us if you would like to learn more: