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The devastating consequences of diabetic retinopathy

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | Social Security Disability (SSD)

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people around the world – but is it disabling? It often depends on the situation.

Roughly 9.6 million people in the United States suffer from a symptom of this condition called diabetic retinopathy – and almost two million may lose their vision from it.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels in the retina – the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The condition arises due to prolonged elevation of the sufferer’s blood sugar levels, which weaken and damage the small blood vessels in the retina.

It’s a condition that often starts to develop while someone is still unaware that they have diabetes, and the damage is not reversible. As the disease progresses, victims experience:

  • Blurred vision: One of the early signs of diabetic retinopathy is blurred or fluctuating vision. This occurs as the damaged blood vessels leak fluid into the retina, distorting the sufferer’s vision.
  • Floaters and dark spots: As the blood vessels deteriorate, they may bleed into the vitreous (the gel-like substance inside the eye), leading to “floaters” or dark spots in the victim’s visual field.
  • Difficulty perceiving colors: Another symptom is a gradual loss of the ability to perceive colors accurately, which many sufferers first attribute to age.

In advanced stages, diabetic retinopathy can result in significant vision loss or even blindness. In severe cases, it can even lead to retinal detachment and blindness.

Is diabetic retinopathy disabling?

It can be. Whether or not someone is disabled in the early stages of the disease may depend a lot on the nature of their work and their skill set. In its later stages, the disease can easily become hugely limiting, affecting a sufferer’s ability to drive, read, write and use their fine motor skills.

If you have diabetes and have experienced severe complications, don’t guess as to whether or not your condition meets the guidelines for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help you understand your benefits options and, if possible, help you to get a claim approved.