Legal Blindness and the IRS

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Legal Blindness and the IRS

Diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration can both cause legal blindness. Complete blindness is caused only by diabetic retionpathy. Report either to the IRS.

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 Blindness

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 ARMD

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.

I have also included a link to a  “Confirmation of Blindness”  form that can be used by your doc, but I don’t know for a fact if this grid is indeed acceptable by the IRS, but it is provided by the National Federation of the Blind.

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.

U.S. Treasury Circular 230 Notice: Any tax information contained in this communication (including any attachments) was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or by any other applicable tax authority; or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matter addressed herein.

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Comments
  • reginald April 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Is there any surgery or treatment available to reverse legal blindness due to diabetic retina??

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D. April 7, 2010 at 7:51 am

      It depends upon the causes of the decreased vision. If the decreased vision is due to macular edema, it might be improved with either laser or injections. Sometimes, a vitrectomy may be helpful.

      Randy

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