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Read carefully: vision loss can result in disability

January is National Soup Month, as well as National Oatmeal Month, National Hobby Month and National Slow Cooking Month. While those lighthearted observations might appeal to many of our North Carolina Law Blog readers, January takes a turn for the serious with a month-long effort to improve glaucoma awareness.

You have, no doubt, heard of the condition, but might not know that glaucoma is actually a group of diseases that can result in vision loss and sometimes blindness; conditions that can force people out of their jobs and careers. It can also force people to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

The federal government's National Eye Institute (NEI) says that glaucoma can strike anyone, but that people in certain groups are at higher risk than others:

  • Everyone who is over the age of 60, but especially Mexican-Americans
  • African Americans over the age of 40
  • People who have a family history of glaucoma

Unfortunately, people who are in the early stages of glaucoma often experience no symptoms. Their vision is normal and they have no pain.

But without treatment, glaucoma can develop in one eye or in both eyes, gradually reducing peripheral (side) vision. If it remains untreated, they often begin to miss things that would normally be seen to the side or out of the corner of the eye.

Eventually, untreated glaucoma can diminish central, straight-ahead vision until a person can no longer see, the NEI says.

A vision loss of that magnitude results in so many life changes, including in many cases, an end to being able to make a living.

If you have been forced to leave your career as a result of disability, you can file for Social Security Disability benefits. If your SSDI claim has been rejected, you can appeal the decision with the help of a Charlotte attorney experienced in SSDI appeals.

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