Vision Impairments and Disability Insurance: A Claimant’s Guide

Feb 18, 2020 | Blog |

At least 3.4 million adults in the United States are either legally blind or vision-impaired, and many more struggle with life-changing eye conditions. Although some people can adapt to their vision limitations and work with accommodations, vision impairments rank among the top ten causes of disability, according to the CDC. If you’re struggling with vision loss, you’re not alone.

At Bryant Legal Group, we help people with vision impairments fight for their long-term disability insurance (LTD) benefits. In this article, we’ll talk about common causes of vision loss and discuss ways you can bolster your LTD claims.

5 Common Causes of Vision Loss

Many different medical conditions can affect your vision. Some of these conditions, like strokes, migraines, and multiple sclerosis, don’t originate in your eyes. However, most people who live with vision loss have eye-specific medical conditions that impair their sight.

Examples of common conditions that can cause vision loss include:

1. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

An estimated 2 million people live with age-related macular degeneration in the United States, and another 7.8 million are at risk. AMD is our nation’s leading cause of vision loss, and the problem is only getting worse: experts believe that the number of people with AMD will double by 2050.

The macula is the central part of your retina. Your macula helps you focus your central field of vision. If your macula deteriorates, you will start to notice blurred or distorted vision, which can make it hard to recognize faces, read, drive, or even perform simple everyday tasks.

People with severe macular degeneration can completely lose their central vision, although their peripheral vision may remain intact. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for AMD.

2. Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the tiny blood vessels in your retina. This condition is the leading cause of blindness in adults, and 4.1 million people in the United States have some form of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy can take one of two forms:

  • Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR): Your blood vessels leak, causing retinal swelling and blurred vision.

  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR): Your body starts to grow new blood vessels in the retina; these new vessels are fragile and frequently bleed. You may experience “floaters” that make it difficult to see, and you may even develop partial or total blindness.

3. Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when fluid builds up in your eye and creates excess pressure. This pressure can damage your optic nerve, which can in turn cause vision loss and blindness. Some people’s glaucoma symptoms develop suddenly; other people’s symptoms seem subtle at first and gradually get worse over time.

4. Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis is associated with autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis and lupus. When you have optic neuritis, your optic nerve’s coating becomes damaged, which disrupts your eye’s ability to communicate with your brain. Optic neuritis typically causes pain and reduced vision in one eye.

5. Eye Trauma

Our eyes are made of delicate tissues as well as fragile nerves and blood vessels. Your eye is very vulnerable to damage from debris, chemicals, heat, and other forces, and if your eye experiences significant trauma, you may experience permanent vision loss.

RELATED: How to Talk to Your Doctor About Disability

Don’t Ignore Other Symptoms Associated with Your Vision Impairment

When you complete an application for disability insurance benefits based on vision impairment, make sure you discuss all your symptoms, not just your diminished sight. For example, many people who live with vision impairments also report pain, headaches, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.

Unfortunately, many people dismiss their other symptoms. According to one survey of 85 people with vision loss, 43% had signs of depression. However, nearly 75% of those individuals did not seek treatment for their depression.

While it can be difficult to talk about your pain, depression, and other symptoms, doing so is vital to both your health and the strength of your long-term disability claim. Medications, counseling, and other care may reduce the severity of your symptoms. Meanwhile, your medical records will help document and substantiate your claims, which improves your chances of receiving disability benefits.

RELATED: “Self-Reported” Symptoms: How to Fight Back With Medical Evidence

Bryant Legal Group: Illinois’ Respected Disability Insurance Team

At Bryant Legal Group, we know that vision loss can isolate you and make you feel powerless. If you need help with a long-term disability claim or appeal, contact our team of disability insurance experts to schedule your free consultation. We can listen to your story, help you understand your legal options, and give you practical advice about how to move forward.

To schedule your free consultation with an attorney from our team, either complete our online contact form or call us at (312) 561-3010. If you can’t travel to our office, we may be able to meet with you by phone, electronically, or at your home.

 

References

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) data and statistics. (2019, July 17). National Eye Institute. Retrieved from https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/resources-for-health-educators/eye-health-data-and-statistics/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd-data-and-statistics

Common eye disorders. (2015, September 29). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/index.html

Nollett, C.L., Bray, N., Bunce, C., Casten, R.J., Edwards, N.T., Hegel, M.T., . . . Margrain, T.H. (2016, August). Depression in visual impairment trial (DEPVIT): A randomized clinical trial of depression treatments in people with low vision. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 10: 4274-54. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27548898

The burden of vision loss. (2009, September 25). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basic_information/vision_loss_burden.htm

 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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