Social Security looks at visual disorders, which are abnormalities of the eye, the optic nerve, the optic tracts, or the brain that may cause loss of acuity or visual fields. The Social Security Act defines blindness as central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of correcting lens. Social Security uses your best corrected central visual acuity for distance in the better eye when they determine if you qualify for benefits.
With regards to your visual fields, Social Security states that an eye that has a visual field limitation such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees is considered as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less.
In order for Social Security to determine you satisfy the statutory blindness, your visual field or visual acuity testing must be consistent with the other medical evidence in your record. If you do have visual acuity or visual field loss, Social Security will need documentation of the actual cause of loss.
Visual acuity is tested by looking at your optimal visual acuity attainable with the use of a corrective lens. Your best corrected central visual acuity for distance is usually measured by determining what you can see from 20 feet. In some cases, visual acuity testing may be performed using a specialized lens. Social Security will use the visual acuity measurements obtained with a specialized lens only if you have demonstrated the ability to use the specialized lens on a sustained basis.
Visual field testing is generally needed when you have a visual disorder that could result in visual field loss, such as glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, or optic neuropathy.
For more information, please contact one of the attorneys at Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik.