Is Having Glaucoma a Disability?

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that leads to the damage if the optic nerve that gradually results in the loss of sight. It is the second leading cause of blindness. It is silent destructor of the vision. Its symptoms are not recognized until it has hampered the eyesight. Glaucoma occurs in more common in older adults of age 60. It is usually detected during routine eye checkup. If glaucoma is not managed in time, it may cause blindness and disabilities like the inability to read and write, drive etc.

Is Having Glaucoma a Disability?

Is having Glaucoma a Disability?

Disability depends on the progress of glaucoma. More severe glaucoma more is the loss of sight. Some people lose central vision along with peripheral vision because of other reasons like cataract in the old age. It becomes difficult for them to work. Visual impairment leads to functional disabilities like walking, reading, writing and driving. Self-assessment also helps to measure one’s performance in the particular task. Bilateral glaucoma results in more difficulty in reading, driving and walking which contributes to more disability as compared to those who are without glaucoma.

Driving a car depends on the visual acuity and peripheral vision. Adequate central visual acuity and sufficient peripheral vision are essential for Safe Driving. Even patient who has excellent central visual acuity and glaucoma are considered unsafe while driving.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has modulated the standards for the loss of the vision in order to measure vision disability. According to these standards, disability benefits can be claimed on the basis of medical clearance from the eye specialists. It is also recommended to consult a disability lawyer for better chances of getting any disability claims for glaucoma.

Glaucoma remains undiagnosed in many cases until the symptoms are advanced. Glaucoma is resulted due to damage to the optic nerve. There is an increase in intraocular pressure of the eye resulted from an increase in the aqueous humor. The fluid flows out of the eye through drainage angle formed in the anterior chamber in between the iris and peripheral cornea. Any blockage in the drainage of this fluid caused due to various reasons will result in the increase in intraocular pressure.

Glaucoma has the potential to reduce the vision by constricting the visual field. Glaucoma affects Peripheral vision the most by the development of blind spots. It spares central vision.

There are two types of glaucoma-

Open-Angle Glaucoma: Open-angle glaucoma is characterized by an increase in angle of iris and cornea more than normal. The drainage canals to the eye are blocked over time, resulting in the increase in the internal pressure of the eye. This increased pressure damages the optic nerve. This type of glaucoma is very common and it takes years to develop without noticeable loss of vision.

Acute Angle-closure Glaucoma: It is also known as narrow-angle glaucoma. The angle between iris and cornea get closed, resulting in a rise in pressure inside eyes, thereby causing damage to optic nerves leading to vision loss. The early signs of this type glaucoma are realized by the symptoms like a sudden headache, hazy vision, the appearance of rainbow-colored circles around the bright lights, vomiting, nausea and sudden loss of eyesight.

If glaucoma is left untreated, it leads to irreversible damage to the visual field and causes blindness. This loss of sight develops over a period of years in the old people. It affects person’s ability to read, write and drive and gradually proceed to blindness. The patient may feel halos around lights, headache, vomiting, and pain in the eyes.


Glaucoma is a slow progressive disease of the eye in which the optic nerve is damaged characterized by the rise in pressure of the fluid inside the eye. It constricts visual acuity and leads to gradual loss of peripheral vision. The glaucoma patient cannot read, write and drive properly due to loss of peripheral vision. Disability of vision depends on the progress of glaucoma.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 4, 2018

Recent Posts

Related Posts