Legal News

The EAT held that facial disfigurement and other side effects did not mean diplopia (double vision) was not ‘correctable’ by a contact lens.

Normally whether something is a disability within the Equality Act 2010 is assessed disregarding measures being taken to treat or correct it. However there is an exception for a sight impairment correctable by spectacles or contact lenses (Sch 1 para 5 EqA).

The claimant in Mart v Assessment Services claimed her diplopia was a disability. She wore a contact lens occluding the vision of one eye to correct it. The employment tribunal held there was no disability.

The contact lens visibly blacked out one eye and so was cosmetically unattractive. She argued the tribunal should have taken into account the facial disfigurement caused by the lens, and anxiety and depression caused by this. She also said the lens restricted her peripheral vision.

The EAT upheld the tribunal decision that she did not have a disability. Whether a sight impairment is ‘correctable’ is a practical issue, to be judged on a case by case basis. Regard could properly be had to whether the lens had unacceptable adverse consequences, eg eye discomfort or infections. In the present case her impairment was ‘correctable’.

This case is not saying that facial disfigurement, anxiety and depression, or loss of peripheral vision connected with diplopia should not be taken into account as impairments. However the claimant here had not pleaded them.

More: Disability: Effect of medical treatment>Exception: Spectacles and contact lenses.