Vision loss is more common than you may think! In fact, it's among the most prevalent disabilities in adults and children. Knowing what puts you at risk of developing vision loss is important and can help you to be proactive about caring for your eyes.
Below, we’ll explore the most common causes of vision loss and the risk factors associated with each.
Common Causes of Vision Loss
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases caused by a buildup of pressure within the eye. Too much inner-eye pressure can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.
Since symptoms don't usually manifest in the early stages of glaucoma, getting regular eye exams is all the more crucial. Advanced or rapidly progressing glaucoma can show a variety of symptoms, such as blurred vision, headache, severe eye pain and redness, seeing halos around lights, and nausea.
Risk factors for developing glaucoma include:
- Being 60 years or older
- Family history of glaucoma
- African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
- High myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness)
- Previous eye injury or certain eye surgeries
- Certain medications, like corticosteroids
- Thin corneas
- Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and sickle-cell anemia
Cataracts occur when the eye's lens becomes cloudy. A healthy lens is clear and allows light to pass through it undisturbed.
Common cataract symptoms include cloudy or blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, light sensitivity, double vision in the affected eye, and seeing colors as faded or yellowish.
Risk factors for developing cataracts include:
- Previous eye surgery, injury, or inflammation
- Extended use of corticosteroids
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over the age of 60. It occurs when the macula (the small central portion of the retina, which is responsible for sharp, colorful, central vision) begins to wear down.
Early stages of AMD usually go unnoticed, but later stages of the disease can produce symptoms like blurred vision, dark or blurry areas in your central vision, and problems with color perception.
There’s not yet a cure for AMD, but certain treatments can help prevent vision loss.
Risk factors for developing AMD include:
- Long-term sun exposure
- Heart disease
- Family history of AMD
- Light-colored eyes
Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes that affects the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye called the retina.
Initially, diabetic retinopathy shows no symptoms but can eventually lead to blindness. As it develops, it can cause increased floaters, impaired color vision, dark spots in your visual field, and blurred vision.
Risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy include:
- Length of time from diabetes diagnosis — the longer you’ve had it, the higher your chances of developing visual complications
- Uncontrolled blood sugar
- High cholesterol or blood pressure
- African American, Hispanic, and Native American ethnicities
- Family history of DR
So, what’s the bottom line ?
Multiple factors contribute to eye disease and vision loss, and some may even be relevant to you. If you think you may be at risk for vision loss or experience any of the symptoms listed above, speak with your eye doctor in Flagstaff as soon as possible. We also recommend you have your eyes thoroughly examined every 1-2 years, or as often as your eye doctor recommends. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call Flagstaff Vision today.
Frequently Asked Questions With Our Flagstaff Eye Doctors
- Can blindness be prevented?
When caught early, many eye diseases can be treated to halt or slow the progression of the disease and potentially prevent vision loss. The best things you can do to preserve your vision for the long term is to lead a healthy lifestyle and make sure you undergo a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years.
- Which eye diseases are genetically inherited?
More than 350 ocular diseases have some sort of genetic component. Certain diseases, like retinitis pigmentosa and albinism, are directly inherited through chromosomal information. In other cases, a predisposition to the disease is inherited, rather than the disease itself.