In another of our useful guides to the conditions that qualify our customers for VAT exemption, we take a look at blindness.
There are over 54,810 people registered as either blind or partially sighted in Ireland.
Blindness is distinct from some of the other conditions we’ve covered in the sense that it’s not a specific condition in and of itself, but the result of certain other conditions. It is also a major cause of concern for many elderly people.
Conditions That Can Cause Blindness
The leading cause of blindness is age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, which currently affects more than 7.2% of people in Ireland. AMD cannot cause complete blindness, but can affect your vision significantly. It tends to progress gradually, though can progress quickly in some cases.
There are two types. Dry AMD, which is caused by a build-up of deposits on the macula, accounts for 90% of cases. Wet AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessels developing beneath the macula.
Cataracts are also very common. They occur due to changes in the eye’s lens that causes them to become increasingly opaque.
Though less common than the above, glaucoma is another prominent cause of vision loss. It occurs when the fluid in the eye cannot drain, which puts pressure on the optic nerve and causes gradual loss of vision, starting with peripheral vision.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that arises from high blood sugar levels causing damage to the retina.
Though both types of AMD are incurable, wet AMD can be treated with medication to prevent or slow the degeneration.
Cataracts can be treated with surgery if they become serious enough.
Vision loss caused by glaucoma is irreversible, but if caught soon enough it can be prevented or slowed with eye drops, laser treatment or surgery.
Diabetic patients are routinely screened for retinopathy, so the aim is to prevent it from developing too drastically. If it does end up advancing to a stage at which vision may be damaged, it can be treated with laser treatment, injections or surgery.
The most important thing, however, is to seek help if you notice any changes in your eyesight. Early diagnosis is key in a lot of these conditions.
Coping with Blindness
If you do end up blind, there are now many ways to make life easier for yourself. You can learn to read braille or get a guide dog. There are charities across the country who offer support to those with impaired vision. Something as simple as a walking cane can make life so much easier.
Furthermore, having a trustworthy support network is great for your wellbeing. Family and friends can help you should you be impacted by a life-changing condition like blindness.
Certain forms of blindness qualify for VAT exemption when ordering a personal alarm system from Lifeline24. HMRC state that a product which has been “designed or adapted for a disability” qualifies for VAT exemption.
Remember to always consult a medical professional if you are worried about your health or are planning to make lifestyle changes.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 10th June 2021 to reflect current information.