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Blindness and Social Security Disability

Blindness affects hundreds of millions of people around the world. Although many have low vision to some degree, at least 50 million are totally blind. Most of these people are over 50. At least 1 million people in the United States are considered legally blind.

Definition of Blindness

For the purpose of receiving benefits under programs such as Social Security Disability (SSD), blindness is defined as either:

  • Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens or
  • A limitation in the field of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field in the better eye subtends an angle of 20 degrees or less

This has been the U.S. government's definition of blindness since 1935, when the Social Security Act became law.

Causes of Blindness

The most common causes of blindness are:

  • Diabetes
  • Macular degeneration
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Infections
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts

Other, less common causes of blindness are vitamin deficiencies, vascular disease, chemical poisoning and retinopathy.

Treatment of Blindness

Blindness, by definition, is a condition that cannot be treated with corrective lenses, although people with vision loss that can be corrected may still be considered disabled. Blindness is more easily prevented than treated in many instances, although some physical causes of blindness, such as cataracts, can be treated surgically. When infections and inflammation cause blindness, many people can regain sight with medications and drops. However, optic nerve damage caused by disease or stroke is difficult to repair surgically. People with long-standing retinal detachment seldom respond to surgical treatment.

Although many people who are blind or have low vision are able to work, many others cannot. If this describes your situation, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. To learn more, contact Binder & Binder® , America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates. Tell them your story and find out how they can help.

For more information: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10052.pdf 

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