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Vision Impairments

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There are an estimated 10 million blind and visually impaired people in the United States, 1.3 million of which are considered legally blind (American Foundation for the Blind, 2006a). Of this number, approximately 109,000 people use long canes for assistance, while about 7,000 individuals use service dogs (American Foundation for the Blind, 2006a).

Vision impairments result from conditions that range from the presence of some usable vision, low vision, to the absence of any vision, total blindness. Low vision is a term that describes a person with a vision impairment that cannot be improved by correction but has some usable vision remaining. Legal blindness is defined as 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction. Errors of refraction, diseases of the eye, and other vision-related conditions are usually the cause of vision loss. Each of these categories includes more specific disorders, which are described below (American Foundation for the Blind, 2006b).

Common Errors of Refraction

Myopia (Nearsightedness):
Close objects look clear while distant objects appear blurred.
Hyperopia (Farsightedness):
The ability to see objects clearly at a distance while close objects appear blurry.
Due to the irregular curvature of the cornea, vision is blurry for both near and far objects.
The eye lens becomes less elastic (associated with aging) and produces blurred vision when focusing on near objects.
Diseases of the Eye
Clouding of the eye's lens that causes loss of vision.
Pressure inside the eye is elevated and can cause damage to the optic nerve, which results in damage to peripheral vision.
Macular Degeneration:
There is a disturbance of blood vessels in the eye resulting in progressive loss of central vision.
Retinitis Pigmentosa:
There is a degeneration of pigment in the eye that is needed to absorb light and create visual images, leading to "tunnel vision" and night blindness.
Retinopathy (due to Diabetes):
Retinopathy typically affects the blood circulation of the retina, which causes blotchy vision.

Other Vision Related Conditions

Night Blindness:
Night blindness results from pigmentary degeneration of the retina, which leads to difficulty seeing in low light.
Color Vision Deficiency:
A color vision deficiency occurs when cone cells of the retina, which provide daylight and color vision, are affected and there is difficulty distinguishing among colors. Typically this only involves certain hues, for example a red-green deficiency; total color blindness (achromatic vision) is rare.
Lack of Depth Perception:
A lack of depth perception is often caused by the loss of sight in one eye, resulting in difficulty with foreground/background discrimination.
Floaters are small specks or clouds moving in the field of vision.

Accommodations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. We have compiled a non-inclusive list of limitations that result in common accommodation situations. In addition, you can find more information at JAN's A to Z Web page at: ../../media/atoz.htm.

Depending on the individual's limitations and job functions, additional questions may need to be asked to determine what accommodations can be effective. For example:

No vision considerations:

Low vision considerations:

Color vision deficiency considerations:

Please select the limitation that corresponds with the individual needing an accommodation below.

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