Common Causes of Visual Impairment                                            


Blindness and visual impairment affect the lives of over 45 million people worldwide.  Described below are some of the most common causes, symptoms, and treatments, although NJBCA recommends that you regularly seek advice and screenings from an eye care professional.


Macular Degeneration occurs when the cells of the macula, the part of the eye that focuses on detail, break down.  The disease causes a loss in central vision, making reading and recognizing faces difficult.  As the leading cause of vision loss in older adults, it is often referred to as Age-Related Macular Degeneration


Diabetic Retinopathy is a result of damage to the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye.  It most commonly causes blindness in adults in the U.S. and is brought on by diabetes.


Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness and is the result of a rising pressure of fluid in the eyes.  The pressure causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve most times leading to tunnel vision – the loss of peripheral (side) vision. 


Common Symptoms

There are rarely early symptoms, which is why it is important to get an annual eye exam by an eye health professional.


Cataracts occurs when the lenses of one’s eyes become cloudy.  Most common in older people, it leads to cloudy vision and sensitivity to glare.  Protecting eyes from direct sunlight and ultraviolet rays may help delay the onset of Cataracts.

Eye Injury

Eye Injury is the most preventable cause of blindness and visual impairment.  Among others, sports injuries, exposure to chemicals, home accidents, and airbags can cause significant injury to the eye and damage vision.


Wearing protective eye gear when playing sports and storing household chemicals in a locked cabinet to ensure that children cannot accidentally gain access are two simple ways of preventing common eye injuries.


While a person is immediately aware of most eye injuries, small eye scratches or small foreign objects in the eye may not be as obvious.  If you feel that something is in your eye, do not rub it.  It could be a scratch or a damaging object.  Instead, flush the eye with water or saline, and if you still feel pain or discomfort, loosely cover it and seek medical attention right away.







Partial definitions and information from the National Library of Medicine.