What Does 20/80 Vision Look Like For Different Eye Conditions?

What Does 20/80 Vision Look Like For Different Eye Conditions

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What is 20/80 vision?

20/80 vision means that a person sees best at 80 feet what others see at 20 feet. A person with this range of eyesight will typically see at a distance that is about fifty percent farther away than a person with a perfect vision which would be 20/20. This might feel strange for you if you’re used to seeing up close and personal!

Common misconceptions about 20/80 vision

The main misconception about 20/80 vision is that it’s always caused by simply being nearsighted. This, however, is only true for about fifty percent of the people who have 20/80 eyesight. The other half of people who have this level of eyesight are born with or develop it in adulthood due to cataracts, glaucoma, or other conditions like macular degeneration. Depending on the cause of the condition, there may be different methods of dealing with it.

What does 20/80 vision look like?

A person with 20/80 vision due to nearsightedness will be able to see details and objects well up close, but the clarity and sharpness of their vision start to fade as things get further away. Someone with this range of eyesight may notice that faces become blurry and out-of-focus when they’re in a group of people. This is especially the case when the person with 20/80 vision tries to see at night or when there isn’t enough light.

What Causes Visual Acuity To Change To 20/80? 

Visual acuity of 20/80 indicates that a person can see at 20 feet what a person with normal vision can see at 80 feet, which suggests reduced sharpness of vision. Several factors can contribute to a change in visual acuity to 20/80 or worse. These factors may include:

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism can significantly affect visual acuity. In some cases, these conditions may worsen over time.


The aging process can lead to changes in vision. Conditions like presbyopia, which makes it difficult to focus on close objects, often become more pronounced with age.

Eye Diseases

Various eye diseases and conditions can impact visual acuity, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. These conditions can cause significant changes in vision and may lead to 20/80 vision or worse.


Eye injuries or trauma can result in changes in visual acuity. Damage to the cornea, retina, or other parts of the eye can affect the ability to see clearly.


Diabetes can lead to diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the blood vessels in the retina and can result in vision changes, including 20/80 vision or worse.


Some medications can have side effects that affect vision, such as causing blurry vision or dry eyes.

Lack of Corrective Lenses

If a person has a refractive error but does not wear the appropriate corrective lenses, their vision may be significantly reduced.

Eye Fatigue

Prolonged periods of eye strain, often due to extensive use of digital screens, can temporarily affect visual acuity.

Infections and Inflammation

Eye infections, inflammation, or allergies can lead to temporary changes in vision.

How can I tell if I have 20/80 eyesight?

You may be wondering how you can know for certain whether or not you have 20/80 eyesight. You may need to visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist in order to get your eyes tested. The doctor will be able to tell you if your vision is 20/20, 20/30, 20/50, or another number on the scale of 20/xx based on a chart that measures how well you see.
Ways that people with 20/80 vision might be able to overcome the disadvantages

One way to overcome any disadvantages of your condition is to wear glasses or contacts. Glasses and contacts can help you see better by providing optical correction for your vision. Another option, if the doctor says it’s possible, would be to get surgery to correct your eyesight. Bifocals might also help, but only if they’re prescribed for people with a refractive error that gives 20/80 vision specifically. If it is disease-related it won’t help entirely. The bifocal glasses can be used as a low-vision aid and will allow you to see well up close and across the room without having to switch between corrective lenses.

diagnosed with 20/80 vision

When a person is diagnosed with 20/80 vision, what can they expect going forward?

If you’ve been diagnosed with 20/80 eyesight, then you can expect to have even more difficulty seeing as time goes on due to cataracts or other conditions that gradually worsen your vision. If this happens, then there will be more things you won’t be able to do because of your eyesight, like sitting through a movie without straining, reading the fine print on forms or signs, seeing people’s faces up close, etc.

People with 20/80 vision due to macular degeneration or another eye disease should be aware of the warning signs and symptoms
If you have 20/80 vision due to macular degeneration or another eye disease, then it’s important to know the warning signs and symptoms. These include: trouble seeing at night or in dimly lit areas, noticing that everything is more blurry than it used to be, experiencing a rapid decline in your eyesight, and having fluid or blood appear in your eyes.

How you can be proactive about your 20/80 vision?

If you’ve been diagnosed with 20/80 vision, make an appointment with your doctor to figure out what’s causing it and how you can best deal with the condition. Some people can get their eyesight corrected with glasses or contacts, while others may be able to have surgery if they have glaucoma or another condition. In any case, it’s important for you to know what your treatment options are and the benefits of each. If the decrease in vision is caused by macular degeneration or another eye disease, then it’s important to keep an eye on the condition. If there are any warning signs or symptoms that you experience, then make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

If the 20/80 vision is found to be permanent you have a condition called low vision. Low vision is characterized by eyesight that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. With this condition, you will need a magnifier, a CCTV, or a Talking Viewer in order to read.

Low vision devices are designed to help people with low vision read, write and continue their daily activities. A CCTV or a Talking Viewer is designed for 20/80 vision. This device will magnify what the person is trying to see and speak what they’re reading aloud. These are helpful in situations where you need to read something that’s not printed in big letters, like the fine print on forms or signs, or when you’re reading at night or in dimly lit areas. There are many different types of low vision devices, including magnifiers and special telescopes.

As you can see, 20/80 eyesight is not good for reading or seeing things up close and would be very difficult to do so without corrective lenses or low vision devices.

people with 20/80 vision drive

Can people with 20/80 vision drive?

If your vision is due to just having a refractive error that decreases your vision such as being near or far-sighted then simply getting glasses or contacts will correct it so you can drive. If it is due to a low vision condition then you may need a bioptic telescope to get you to approximately 20/40 for most states to pass the test.

Since 20/80 vision is a condition where a person sees best at 80 feet what others see at 20 feet. The legal limit for driving in the USA is 20/40. If you have been diagnosed with this condition and it is not due to an eye disease or age-related macular degeneration then you can expect that as time goes by your vision will probably not change much. If it is due to disease it is more likely to continue changing. If you can see 20/40 out of at least one eye then you may be able to pass the driving test and your license wouldn’t be restricted to daylight driving only. If your vision is worse than 20/40 but better than 20/100 in both eyes you may need a bioptic telescopic system and could get a restricted license for daytime driving only. Every state has different regulations but this is a good rule of thumb for most.

Does having 20/80 vision mean you are legally blind?

No, not necessarily. If your vision is worse than 20/200 then you would be legally blind. But if your vision is between 20/80 and 20/200 and you can still see reasonably well, then you are considered to have low vision. In either case, it’s important for people with 20/80 vision to know the dangers of driving even if they’ve been able to pass the test so far.

Does 20/80 vision affect color vision?

Yes, some people with 20/80 vision experience decreased color ability. Most people with this condition are not able to distinguish the difference between blues and greens as easily. Especially if this is due to cataracts or macular degeneration. It may be decreased but not absolute.

Can 20/80 vision cause headaches?

Yes, it can. If you have to strain your eyes in order to see things in the distance then this will cause tension in the muscles around your eyes and could lead to a headache or migraine. This is one of the reasons that people with low vision may benefit from having special lenses and devices.

Is 20/80 vision hereditary?

It is possible to inherit low vision conditions but not usually the refractive error that causes 20/80. You can inherit macular degeneration, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, and other medical conditions that cause low vision. People with a family history of these conditions should pay close attention to their eye health and have regular exams with an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Can 20/80 vision be caused by something other than age-related conditions or eye diseases?

Yes, it can. Cataracts and macular degeneration are the most common causes of low vision and can cause 20/80 vision but there are many other possible causes such as trauma to the eyes, optic nerve lesions, tumors, and more. If you notice a significant vision change it’s important to see an ophthalmologist or optometrist right away so they can determine the cause and proper treatment.

bioptic telescope

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What is a bioptic telescope?

A bioptic telescope is a low vision aid that is often used by people with 20/80 vision. It consists of a small telescope mounted in the top of the carrier lens or flipped into place. This gives your central vision the magnification it needs to see better. Some people use a bioptic telescope in combination with a direct view lens. This is a carrier lens that has a spot where the magnification section would be, typically 2.2x to 4x for this type of device. With both these lenses in place, it’s easier for you to see things at a distance but they don’t help your near vision unless a reading cap is placed over the telescope.

If you are experiencing 20/80 vision, it is important to know how this might affect your day-to-day life. Vision changes can be subtle or drastic and often come on gradually so they are easy to ignore until the problem becomes more severe. This blog post discussed some of the common eye diseases that cause low vision as well as ways for people with 20/80 eyesight to stay proactive about their health. The best way to protect your eyesight is by seeing an ophthalmologist or optometrist regularly for a comprehensive exam. We hope this information will help keep you healthy! If you have any questions about our services please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]


Is 20/80 vision legally blind?

No, 20/200 with correction is what is considered to be legally blind.

What power is 20/80 vision?

A person with 20/80 visual acuity can see what a person with normal vision can see at 80 feet away. This degree of visual acuity normally necessitates the prescription of corrective lenses for eyeglasses or contact lenses to enhance vision.

Individual variances in eye anatomy, underlying refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism), and any other eye diseases can all affect the prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses needed to correct 20/80 vision. A 20/80 vision correction prescription would be determined after an eye exam by an eye care specialist, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, in order to ensure that the patient has the best possible vision. Your vision will be evaluated, and the right lenses will be prescribed to raise your visual acuity to a more typical level, such as 20/20 or 20/40.

Is 20/80 vision bad for a child?

A child’s 20/80 visual acuity is generally regarded as inadequate and may cause vision issues. Despite not necessarily being considered “bad,” it does show that the child’s vision is not as sharp as it ought to be for their age. There are a number of possible causes for a youngster to have 20/80 vision, including:

  • Refractive Errors: Nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism are common refractive errors in children. These issues may affect visual acuity and necessitate the use of corrective lenses to enhance vision.
  • Amblyopia, sometimes known as “Lazy Eye,” is a disorder where one eye is weaker than the other and has less vision. Vision therapy and early identification of amblyopia are required.
  • Eye Conditions or Diseases: Retinal abnormalities and cataracts, for example, might impair a child’s vision.
  • Eye Muscle Disorders: Issues with the eyes’ alignment or movement, including strabismus, can result in a decline in visual acuity.
  • Developmental Issues: As children mature and develop, some may encounter delays in their visual development.

Any questions you have concerning a child’s vision should be answered right away. Children should have routine eye exams, especially in the early years, to identify and treat visual problems as soon as feasible. An eye doctor should be consulted if a child has 20/80 vision in order to identify the underlying cause and suggest the best course of action, which may include corrective glasses, vision therapy, or other therapies. The entire eye health and visual acuity of a child can be enhanced with early intervention.

How bad is 20/80 vision in one eye?

A 20/80 visual acuity in one eye is regarded as less than ideal and may be cause for concern. A person with normal vision can see at a distance of 80 feet, whereas an eye with this quality of vision can see at a distance of 20 feet. Despite not being regarded as “bad” in the sense of total blindness or severe vision loss, it does suggest that the eye’s eyesight is seriously compromised.

Refractive errors, eye disorders, and other causes can all contribute to 20/80 vision in one eye. To identify the reason for the decreased visual acuity in that eye and to investigate potential treatments, it is crucial to have a thorough eye exam performed by an eye care professional.

The effects of 20/80 vision in one eye can differ from person to person and rely on a number of variables, including the person’s overall vision, the reason for the diminished vision, and their capacity for adaptation and compensation with the other eye. In some circumstances, corrective glasses, eye exercises, or other therapies might be able to help the damaged eye’s vision. With the ability to offer a more thorough assessment and recommendations, an eye care specialist should be consulted about the precise consequences of 20/80 vision in one eye.

About the Author:
Dr. Shaun Larsen

Dr. Shaun Larsen

Dr. Shaun Larsen is an optometrist who specializes in low vision services and enhancing vision with contact lenses. He has a passion for making people's lives better by helping them see well enough to read, write, or drive again. He always keeps up with the latest technology so he can help people regain their independence.


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