What Are the Leading Causes of Blindness
People in the West Orange area can count on our team of eye care specialists to help enhance their vision. Our practice offers state-of-the-art treatments for various conditions that result in vision loss, including open angle and closed angle glaucoma.
We receive many questions about the causes of vision loss and how they can be addressed. Let's take a moment to provide an overview of four common causes of blindness.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the world outside of developed countries. Cataracts refer to the clouding of the naturally clear lens of the eye. This may be the result of advanced age, trauma, UV ray exposure, use of certain drugs or medications, and other factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), roughly 20.5 million Americans who are 40 years old or older have a cataract in one eye or in both eyes.
Thankfully, treatment for cataracts is simple and routine. The cataracts can be removed through a common surgical procedure, and vision can be restored through the use of corrective lenses or artificial lenses. Prevention involves wearing sunglasses with UV protection, wearing protective goggles at work, and maintaining good general health.
Glaucoma is another major cause of blindness. The condition occurs when excessive pressure builds up within a person's eye. This causes damage to the optic nerve. There are two types of glaucoma: open angle and closed angle, with open angle being the more common type of the condition. An estimated 2 million people in the United States suffer from glaucoma.
Unlike cataracts, treatment for glaucoma is much more difficult and the vision loss is permanent and irreversible. Treatment is mainly focused on slowing down the rate of the vision loss. This can be achieved through the use of medication, changes to a person's lifestyle, or various kinds of eye surgery procedures that relieve intraocular pressure.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD/ARMD)
Macular degeneration is a condition that occurs in advanced age and results in the loss of central vision. The condition affects the macula, the central portion of the retina. There are two kinds of macular degeneration: wet AMD and dry AMD, with dry AMD being far more common. Roughly 1.8 million Americans who are 40 years old or older suffer from AMD; around 7.3 million people are at risk for developing AMD.
There are no known procedures to treat dry AMD, though taking certain vitamin/nutritional supplements can help manage the condition. As for wet AMD, anti-VEGF drugs and laser surgery can be used to help minimize the vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication related to advanced diabetes. The condition involves damage to the blood vessels of the retina, resulting in serious loss of vision. Diabetic retinopathy typically affects both of a person's eyes. It's estimated that 4.1 million Americans suffer from diabetic retinopathy, though it may not have progressed to the stage that their vision is severely impacted.
Treating diabetic retinopathy in early stages generally involves checking your blood sugar and keeping your diabetes under control. In more advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, anti-VEGF drugs, laser surgery, or a vitrectomy may be recommended.
Learn More About Fighting Vision Loss
For more information about vision loss and proper eye care treatments, be sure to contact our team of eye care specialists today. We will work with you to help ensure great vision that lasts a lifetime, offering insight into health, wellness, and proper care.