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.


Common Symptoms

Most people with Macular Degeneration describe the formation of a black or gray dot in their central vision.


Current Treatments

While there is no cure, early diagnosis is important for beginning early treatment.  Laser surgery, injection drugs, and certain therapies are available.  Proper nutrition is recommended by many eye professionals to help slow the progression of the disease.


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.


Common Symptoms

Spotty vision, blurred vision


Current Treatments

Possibly preventable with proper control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels; Surgeries or laser surgeries are also available for treatment.


Glaucoma is the leading cause 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.


Current Treatments

While there is no cure for glaucoma, certain prescription eye drops may help delay damage.  Early diagnosis is key in slowing progression.


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.


Common Symptoms

Blurry vision, double vision, glare sensitivity, loss of sharpness in color, and poor night vision.


Current Treatments

Many find that using brighter lighting, magnifying glasses, and anti-glare sunglasses help, but surgery to replace the eye lens with an artificial lens is also an option.


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.