The Who2 Blog

Is Bill Cosby Legally Blind?

Bill Cosby had to be propped up on both arms by lawyers yesterday as he hobbled into court for his arraignment and mug shot.  He carried a cane and stumbled over the curb on the short walk from his black SUV to the courtroom door.

What’s going on? Does Bill Cosby have a bad leg? Is he too weak and elderly to walk?

Turns out that his legal team says Bill Cosby is going blind. In a counter-suit filed 10 days ago against one of his accusers, Cosby’s lawyers declared:

Mr. Cosby has suffered from a degenerative eye condition for years which has steadily worsened recently to the point that he for over a year has been legally and functionally blind.

Bill Cosby does have glaucoma and has had it for years. Cosby: His Life and Times, a 2014 biography by Mark Whitaker, includes this passage about Cosby at the airport on his way to a concert:

Even more remarkable, Cosby can barely see these people, or the scores of other facilitators and fans he will encounter on this trip… For two decades, he has battled a rare form of glaucoma that for a while clouded over one eye so badly that he took to wearing dark glasses in public. After multiple operations, the eye looks much better now, and he can go without shades, which is a huge relief for a man who will tell you: “I perform with my face.” But he still can’t make out objects more than ten feet away. So as he travels across America, for more than thirty weeks out of the year, he has to navigate with other tools besides his vision: his acute sense of hearing, of smell, and of intuition about what lies in the fog beyond his sight.

Of course, this is in a passage about how Cosby travels alone to 60 concerts a year and “carries his luggage himself — a leather duffle bag and a matching knapsack.” But still.

Bill Cosby head shot with glaucoma clouding his right (our left) eye

Bill Cosby in 2007. (L. Gallo /

To be fair, the glaucoma has been easy to see in photos going back at least a decade and more.

Cosby is also said to have keratoconus, a condition where the cornea “bulges outward like a cone,” causing blurred vision and more.

The American Optometric Association says that contact lenses are adequate to correct vision in most cases, but that “in a few cases, a corneal transplant is necessary.” The non-profit Keratoconus Australia says “Keratoconus does not cause total blindness. However it can lead to significant vision impairment resulting in legal blindness.”

So Bill Cosby’s blindness explains him being helped into the courtroom, right? Sure, maybe.

Still, some of us are old enough to remember Richard Nixon suddenly getting a bad case of phlebitis right after his resignation as president. Poor guy! It was just enough to prevent him from traveling to Washington to comply with legal subpoenas to testify against his former aides. Yes, he really had phlebitis, but it was also mighty convenient.

Before that, Ted Kennedy appeared in his unconvincing neck brace at the funeral for Mary Jo Kopechne after Chappaquiddick. Lots of people seem to feel worse when it might help their legal case.

We’re obviously not qualified to say whether Bill Cosby is blind or not. But there truly is nothing new under the sun.

See our full Bill Cosby biography »

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