What are the Most Common Causes of Eyesight Loss?

Eyesight loss has many common causes, ranging from disease to age-related degeneration and exposure to hazards. With some causes, such as exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, measures can be taken to prevent damage altogether. Other times, such as cases when an individual is afflicted with a hereditary or disease-related cause such as glaucoma, steps can be taken to slow if not reverse the damage being done.

Disease-related causes of eyesight loss include conditions such as glaucoma and diabetes. Glaucoma is a condition in which fluid builds up inside the eye, putting pressure on the optic nerve and blocking the transmission of information from the eye to the brain. If this pressure is not relieved, usually with a surgical procedure, it can cause complete and permanent blindness in a matter of years. Those at risk for glaucoma include any individual with a family history of the condition, people over the age of 40, those who suffer from poor vision or diabetes, and people who have been taking a steroid such as prednisone.

Diabetes is another common cause of eyesight loss. High blood sugar levels can destroy the blood vessels located at the back of the eye, in turn starving the retina of the nutrients and blood supply it needs. In early stages of diabetes-related blindness, called diabetic retinopathy, vision becomes distorted as the communication between the eye and the brain begins to suffer. This type of blindness can usually be controlled with the proper monitoring of blood sugar levels.

Some types of eyesight loss is related to age. Macular degeneration occurs most commonly in individuals over the age of 60. The central portion of the retina, called the macula, can begin to deteriorate in one of two ways. Yellow deposits can begin to build up in this area, making vision blurry or distorted. This can lead to the other type of macular degeneration, where blood vessels begin to grow beneath the macula and will eventually begin to leak fluid and blood into the retina. It is this second form that results in the most severe eyesight loss, though it is only developed by about 10 percent of the population.

Some types of vision loss come from an individual's activities, and can be prevented. Wearing protective glasses can shield eyes from damage relating to UV light and impact while working or playing sports. Often, the first signs that something is wrong with the eyes is a loss in vision. There are rarely, if ever, any signs of glaucoma before eyesight loss, for example, making regular eye examinations an important step in eye health.


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