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Blind or unable to see at all

Codes and Frequencies

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BLIND reports whether the person is legally blind (in 1994-1995) or blind or unable to see at all (1997 and later). Please see Comparability and Universe sections for information on changes in universe and wording between samples.


In 1994 and 1995, BLIND indicates if he or she was legally blind. This variable is part of the Disability Supplement (NHIS-D) that collects information on disability. NHIS-D included two household interviews: in Phase I all members of sample families were screened for any indication of disability; in Phase II persons with any indication of disability were followed-up for additional information. Phase I includes sensory, communication, and mobility problems; health conditions; activities of daily living and independent activities of daily living; functional limitations; mental health; services and benefits; special health needs of children; early child development; education; relationship to respondent; and perceived disability. Phase II includes four Disability Followback Survey (DFS) questionnaires: one for children, one for adults, one for elderly persons (69 years of age and over) without any indication of disability (also called the Supplement on Aging or SOA; only in 1994), and one for persons with a history of polio.


Changes in the universe limit the comparability of this variable between 1994-1995 and 1997-2014 samples.

In 1994 and 1995, persons included in the NHIS Disability supplement who had serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses (DISEEP = 2) were asked if they are legally blind.

In 1997 and later samples, BLIND reports responses to the question, "[Are/Is] [you/sample child] blind or unable to see at all?" This question was posed only to sample adults and sample children who had any trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses (VISIONPROB). (For the filter variable VISIONPROB, the phrase "even when wearing glasses or contact lenses" was omitted from the question for children younger than age 2.)

Due to changes in question wording and universe, BLIND can be compared without issue within 1994-1995 and 1997-on samples.


  • 1994-1995: Persons in households that did not refuse to complete the National Health Interview Survey-Disability Survey (NHIS-D) Phase I sample who have serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.
  • 1997-2018: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children age 2 to 17 who have trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses and sample children under age 2 who have trouble seeing.


  • 1994-1995, 1997-2018