Legally blind vision loss can result from either diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration. Complete blindness can result diabetic retinopathy, but not ARMD. Legally blind, or partially sighted individuals, can still “see,” whereas completely blind patients see nothing.
Diabetic retinopathy can cause a spectrum of vision loss, from slightly blurry vision to complete blindness. As we have discussed recently, one difference with diabetes as compared to macular degeneration is that diabetic retinopathy can affect the entire retina due to diabetic retinal detachment.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy can also cause neovascular glaucoma which can completely destroy the optic nerve.
Both diabetic retinal detachment and neovascular glaucoma can blind completely.
Diabetes can also only affect the macula, thus, diabetic retinopathy can cause both legal and complete blindness.
Blindness from Macular Degeneration In contrast, only the macular area of the retina is involved in macular degeneration. Hence, central vision may be destroyed, yet the peripheral vision is spared. Macular degeneration can NOT cause complete blindness.
Legal Blindness Both eye diseases have the potential for causing legal blindness as both can affect the macula, or rather, both can affect central vision. Legal blindness is defined as vision 20/200 or worse in both eyes despite use of corrective lenses. There are also considerations of “blindness” for severely restricted visual fields. Confirm this with your eye doctor.
Legal Blindness May Qualify for Tax Deduction With tax day fast approaching, obtaining a qualifying statement from your eye doctor, may allow you a tax deduction. If you file jointly, your spouse may qualify, too.
What Does This Mean? Obviously, as one who deals with partially sighted patients, I attest to a patient’s “blindness” all the time. A letter from your doctor is all you need to confirm your legal blindness.
NOTE: There are many reasons a person may become legally blind, not just from retinal disease. As always, feel free to share any of these articles with friends, family or doctors.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this posting should only be used as a reference. Should you have additional questions contact your tax attorney or local IRS office.