Refractive Errors

Is Myopia a Disability?

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Myopia is not a disability. Also called nearsightedness, myopia is a common refractive error of the eye that causes distant objects to appear blurry.

The Social Security Administration and most disability insurance policies define a disability as a condition that prevents a person from accomplishing one or more activities of daily living (ADLs). The vision problems caused by myopia usually are easily corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. And while some people may not consider wearing corrective lenses to be "normal," having to wear them is certainly not a disability.

Myopia Promo 6: High myopia increases the risk of serious eye problems.

Myopia also is not considered a visual impairment. That's because a visual impairment is defined as reduced vision that cannot be corrected by usual means, namely corrective lenses. Visual impairments are typically caused by disease, trauma, and congenital or degenerative conditions.

Other refractive errors that affect vision but are not diseases or disabilities are farsightedness and astigmatism. As with myopia, vision problems caused by farsightedness and astigmatism typically can be fully corrected with eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Myopes (nearsighted people) see near objects clearly but their distant vision is blurred. A person with farsightedness (also called hyperopia) typically sees distant objects clearly but has trouble with objects that are close up. Astigmatism causes a distorted appearance of objects at all distances. They appear as elongated shapes with blurry, streaked or stretched borders.

Vision conditions can progress over time to a point where they may affect a person's daily life more seriously. For example, severe nearsightedness known as high myopia is associated with complications like glaucomacataracts and retinal detachment.

Refractive errors can be diagnosed and treated by an eye care professional during a comprehensive eye exam. If it's been more than a year since your last eye exam, schedule one today with an eye doctor near you.

Page updated September 2018

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