Vision Loss - Condition and Symptoms
According to the American Foundation for the Blind, there are over 10 million people in the United States today living with vision loss significant enough to qualify them as visually impaired. Vision loss ranges in severity from needing glasses when reading to being labeled as legally blind. In addition, vision loss can be caused by a variety of medical conditions. There are over 150 recognized causes of vision loss, from cancer to age related physiological changes. The most common conditions that lead to vision loss are:
- Cytomegalovirus – a condition causing blindness in HIV patients
- Macular Degeneration – a possibly age related condition involving abnormal blood vessels and the loss of retinal cells
- Presbyopia - age related vision loss
- Refractive Eye Disorders - incude nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism
- Cataracts - clouding of the eye’s lens
- Glaucoma – vision loss due to increased pressure within the eye
Vision loss can take one of two forms. The more common problem is a decrease in the visual acuity of one or both eyes. Less commonly, there can be a decrease in the peripheral visual field, leaving sufferers able to see only images that are directly in front of the eyes. In almost all cases, an optometrist will be able to diagnose vision loss and the medical cause behind the vision problems.
When vision loss is severe enough, even glasses may be unable to correct the issue. Decreased vision leads to detrimental, life-altering complications, which often include loss of employment and increased difficulty carrying out everyday activities.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Vision Loss
According to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) impairment listing manual, or “Blue Book,” there are two ways to file for Social Security Disability when vision loss has negatively impacted your life.
If you have severe vision loss in both eyes and your vision in the better eye is worse than 20/200, you will qualify for benefits under 2.02 of the SSA disability guidelines. Additionally, if your better eye has a level of peripheral field vision less than 20 degrees, you may qualify for benefits under section 2.03. If your vision loss does not fit one of these qualifications there is a second option to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In such a situation, you must be able to prove to the state-run Disability Determination Services (DDS) that the vision loss affects you ability to work or function in several critical areas of daily living. In general, the easiest way to prove this is in situations when you have other compounding health problems.
Your Vision Loss Disability Claim
In many cases, the first step toward successfully pursuing a claim for SSDI or SSI is contacting a qualified attorney or advocate specializing in Social Security Disability. Working closely with legal and medical professionals can help you to build a strong Social Security case and can drastically improve your chances of quickly and efficiently receiving the benefits that you deserve.