Is Being Partially Blind a Disability?

Total blindness is the absence of perception of light in both the eyes. According to US law, blindness is based on two parameters: central visual acuity and peripheral vision (visual field). If a person’s best eye has a central visual acuity of 20/200 or worse, with correction and/or if their peripheral vision is less than 20 degrees, it is termed as legal blindness or statutory blindness, even though this is only partial blindness as the individual is not completely blind. 20/200 means that a visually impaired person sees at 20 feet what a person with normal vision sees at 200 feet. This criterion of categorization is very helpful in determining driver’s license, requirements for disability and special services eligibility. Thus, a person with partial blindness, which is termed as legal blindness, is considered a disability. However, if a person has 20/200 visual acuity and less than 20 degree of peripheral vision in only one eye, it is not termed as a disability as the person is able to perform his daily chores, drive and work.

In any case it is better to hire a disability lawyer for handling your disability claim. If a person falls under legal blindness criteria then he/she can file and qualify for Social Security disability benefits through SSA (Social Security Administration) and is also eligible for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). The individuals with legal blindness are not able to perform daily activities like other people, cannot drive and work, so they need extra benefits from the government for daily living. People with total blindness automatically get disability benefits.

According to WHO, cataract and glaucoma are the leading causes of blindness all over the world. Although loss of vision from cataract is reversible with surgery, however, vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible even after treatment as the damage to optic nerve is permanent. Thus, even after treatment 10 % people suffering from glaucoma ultimately go blind even after treatment. The treatment for glaucoma aims at reducing/slowing the progression of optic nerve damage, but cannot stop or reverse the damage that is already done to the nerve.

Is Being Partially Blind a Disability?

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition causing gradual visual impairment as a result of permanent damage to the optic nerve normally caused due to increased intraocular pressure.

What Are The Risk Factors For Glaucoma?

The risk factors for glaucoma include increased intraocular pressure, adults over 60 years of age, family history, history of steroid use, African American ethnicity, , diabetics and patients who already have other eye conditions such as myopia, hyperopia.

What Are The Types Of Glaucoma And Their Symptoms?

There are basically two types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma and Angle-closure glaucoma. Most of the times open angle glaucoma is symptom less, but might present with peripheral vision loss that might not be detected or is ignored by the patient in the initial stages of the disease. Patient only report it when significant vision is lost.

When symptoms are present, mostly with angle closure glaucoma, they might include eye pain, headache, visual blurring, redness of the eye, and halos around lights, corneal haziness, nausea and vomiting and narrowed vision (tunnel vision).

What Is The Diagnosis And Treatment For Glaucoma?

To avoid blindness, it becomes imperative to get diagnosed in the initial stages if one is at an increased risk of glaucoma development. A diagnosis of glaucoma is made by an experienced optometrist or an ophthalmologist by measuring the intraocular pressure and observing the drainage angle and looking for any damage to the optic nerve. The various approaches for evaluating glaucoma are pachymetry, tonometry, ophthalmoscopy, gonioscopy, visual field testing, confocal laser scanning systems along with optical coherence tomography. Once glaucoma is diagnosed, the treatment is given, which is aimed at improving intraocular pressure to prevent further nerve damage and vision loss as the damage that has already been done cannot be reversed. The various treatment measures include medications, eye drops, laser surgery to include argon laser trabeculoplasty, selective laser trabeculoplasty, laser peripheral iridotomy, and laser cyclophotocoagulation and/or incisional eye surgery including trabeculectomy and sclerostomy. There have also been newer procedures known as minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) that are very promising.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: January 18, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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