Vision loss affects those older than 65, but many younger people also suffer from various forms of visual impairment. If you have been diagnosed with an eye disease or if your vision isn’t as good as it used to be, Braille Institute can help bring your life back into focus. Learn more about some of the leading eye diseases and their effects on your vision.
Diabetic Retinopathy is associated with both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes and is affecting a growing number of Americans. It is caused by the breakage of tiny blood vessels in the retina, resulting in hemorrhages on or in the retina, typically by prolonged and repeated exposure to high blood sugar levels. Untreated diabetes or poor disease maintenance greatly increases the risk of diabetic retinopathy. Depending on the severity of the disease, sight can remain near normal or can be lost entirely. Remaining vision may be blurred or distorted or the hemorrhaging may cause a deep reddish veil to form over the field of vision. Laser surgery often can be effective in regaining some vision, but the patient must continue to manage their diabetes through medication, diet, exercise and frequent monitoring of blood sugar.
In people age 65 and older, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss. It is typically part of the natural aging process, but macular degeneration may also be inherited. It is caused by damage to the macula, the small part of the retina that gives sharp, forward vision. Symptoms include blurred, distorted vision, often with large blank spots in the central area of sight. However, Macular Degeneration rarely causes total loss of sight.
Retinitis Pigmentosa is a hereditary condition leading to chronic retinal degeneration. The disease causes a progressive decrease in peripheral or side vision, and is accompanied by abnormal deposits of pigment. Eventually, a person will only be able to see directly forward, a condition known as “tunnel vision.” This affects night vision as well as the ability to walk safely. It is rare that Retinitis Pigmentosa will cause a total loss of vision. At present there is no known cure or effective medical treatment for RP, although certain doses of Vitamin A have been found to slow the progression of the disease slightly.
There are various types of Glaucoma, though all are due to damage to the optic nerve. Generally, this is caused by high fluid pressure inside the eye, causing damage to the optic nerve. If left untreated, vision around the edge of the eye becomes increasingly restricted, narrowing the field of vision causing “tunnel vision” similar to that of Retinitis Pigmentosa. However, unlike with RP, total blindness can occur in those experiencing the Glaucoma as a result of damage to the optic nerve. If detected early enough, the damaging affects of the disease often can be treated with various drugs. Laser or conventional surgery can also relieve pressure and prevent further sight loss.
Cataracts cause a clouding of the lens of the eye. It is estimated that 95 percent of those over 65 years of age have some degree of cataract that may or may not cause blurring of vision in one or both eyes. If a cataract begins to cause vision loss that interferes with important activities, it can be surgically removed and an artificial lens implanted. This procedure usually results in a great improvement of vision.