What is Retinoschisis, and Does it Qualify for Canadian Disability Benefits?
Retinoschisis is an eye condition in which a part of the retina has ‘split’ into two layers. The retina (the tissue lining on the back of the eye that transmits visual information to the optic nerve and brain), when afflicted with retinoschisis will cause unclear vision.
When the retina splits into two layers, tiny lumps called cysts begin to mold between each layer. These cysts, not only damage the eye’s nerves, but impede light signals from reaching the brain. These damaged eye nerves cause blurry vision.
The two main causes of retinoschisis are juvenile X-linked retinoschisis and degenerative retinoschisis:
Juvenile X-linked Retinoschisis
This variation of retinoschisis, sometimes called XJR, is a genetic disease that affects boys and young men. Females who carry the condition typically don’t show any symptoms and almost always retain normal vision; boys who get the gene will have the disorder.
XJR is a very rare condition that damages the macula, or the centre area of the retina. Because it’s located in the middle of your eye, the retina is responsible for clear central vision and focusing on objects in front of you. Usually XJR impairs the central vision and may obstruct peripheral vision, too.
Symptoms: Signs of retinoschisis can appear within the first few months after birth, though it’s commonly undiagnosed until the child has started school and has trouble reading. Vision is often poor through childhood, and levels off afterwards. When the individual reaches 50-60 years of age, their vision quality dips again. While some men can lose a significant amount of vision by the time they’re an adult, retinoschisis rarely causes total blindness.
Other symptoms of retinoschisis include:
- Strabismus (Eyes that aren’t parallel with one another)
- Bleeding in the eye, due to damaged blood vessels
Degenerative Retinoschisis (Senile Retinoschisis)
This form of retinoschisis, often called SR, affects both men and women. The condition worsens from the ages of 50-70, though symptoms can appear sooner. SR isn’t as debilitating as the juvenile variation; vision loss is rare.
Interestingly, the cause of SR is unknown. It’s not genetic like XJR, and isn’t from a ‘problem’ gene. Doctors have yet to pinpoint why the retina becomes damaged as people age.
Symptoms: Because SR doesn’t cause blurry vision, symptoms of SR are non-existent. The disability is typically detected through a routine eye exam. Over time, some people with SR have been known to lose a bit of their peripheral (side) vision. In rare instances, the retina can detach as a result of senile retinoschisis.
If you’ve been diagnosed with retinoschisis, your vision may be blurry and unclear. But that doesn’t mean your future has to be the same way.
Depending on the severity of your condition, retinoschisis can be considered a disability, and therefore qualifies for certain disability benefits – namely the Disability Tax Credit. The Disability Tax Credit empowers differently-abled Canadians to maintain their standard of living, now and in the future.
There are plenty of resources on disability benefits that you can research yourself, but to the NBA specializes in helping Canadians expedite their Disability Tax Credit applications. We’ll help you prepare your T2201 form, acquire the necessary paperwork from your physician, and guide you through the entire DTC process.
The NBA has assisted over 40,000 Canadians in qualifying for Disability Tax Credits, recovering up to $50,000 per application from the Canadian Revenue Agency!
For more information on disability benefits, call us today at 1-888-389-0080. To learn more about the Disability Tax Credit and Disability Tax Credit eligibility, visit our dedicated information page.