What Causes Vision Loss?

Not everyone with vision loss experiences the same symptoms. Based on the cause and severity, warning signs may be as varied as having trouble seeing at night to experiencing blurred images or blank spots. Although many health conditions and circumstances affect the eyes, there are five leading causes of sight loss.

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Five Causes of Vision Loss

  1. Cataracts are a common cause of impaired vision. Thought to result from a combination of reasons, including age, environmental factors, and coexisting illnesses, they cloud the eye's lens but can generally be treated with surgery. Things to watch for include halos around lights, double vision in one eye, and yellowing of colors. People who have cataracts may also need frequent eyeglass changes and notice dim vision.
  2. Glaucoma includes a group of disorders in which fluid builds up in the eye and causes damage to the optic nerve. Although the damage is irreversible, the disease can usually be treated if caught in time. Because there may be no initial symptoms, early detection is important.
  3. Macular degeneration is an incurable illness that shows up as a spot in the center of the eye and sometimes causes sufferers to see wavy lines. There is no medical treatment, but lifestyle changes and healthy living may slow its progression. Early signs include blurred or hazy vision and difficulty reading or seeing at night. The disorder may affect one or both eyes.
  4. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when swelling damages the blood vessels in the retina. Early signs include floaters, blurred vision, poor sight at night, and dark spots. Symptoms usually improve when blood sugar levels are under control, and early detection can eliminate unnecessary risk.
  5. A detached retina occurs when the retina detaches from the tissue around it. Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent permanent damage. Early warning signs include floaters, flashes of light, and deteriorating peripheral vision. People who have a family history of the disorder, have suffered an eye injury, or are nearsighted are at higher risk of having a detached retina.

Because many of these conditions go undetected until vision loss has occurred, one of the best means of prevention is having regular eye exams. Even when cures are not available, a good doctor can slow the damage caused by eye diseases and help patients maintain good eye health.

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