Eye Care Services

What Causes Low Vision? Are You At Risk?

12/17/2018

Out of all five of your senses, did you know that your eyes are the most important? Your eyes help you perceive as much as 80 percent of impressions and input that you use to make sense of all that is around you. Animals tend to rely more on their sense of smell, but the complexity of the human eye and how much the human brain dedicates to the sense of vision makes your eyes the primary sense of organ.

When something compromises that sense, it can be particularly devastating. Vision loss can that is so severe that it is unable to be corrected with contact lenses, prescription glasses, medication, or even surgery is referred to as Low Vision. Low Vision is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as having less than 20/70 vision in an individual’s “better eye” with the best correction possible.

Below are some of the most common causes of Low Vision.

  1. Age-Related Macular Degeneration

As the name suggests, the macula—the center of the retina—will deteriorate with age in some individuals. Because the central part of the retina allows sharp focus of various objects that are directly in front of your face, it ultimately controls what you see directly in the center of your eyes. Macular degeneration can directly affect your ability to recognize faces, to drive, read and perform fine-detail work. Basically, it creates a blind spot immediately in front of your eyes, which can be distressing. Age-related macular degeneration is known to be the number one cause of blindness in individuals 50 years and older and is the cause of roughly 50 percent of low vision cases.

  1. Glaucoma

This is the grouping of disorders of the eye that cause damage to the optic nerve over a period of time, resulting in the loss of vision. The gradual damage is generally a result of internal fluid pressure in the eye that has resulted from fluid build-up. This build-up comes from the eye producing excess fluid or issues with the flow of fluid or drainage out of the eye. Glaucoma is considered the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. Because it is so serious, it is important that eye pressure be checked on a regular basis so that the disease can be caught early on, at which time it can be maintained with medication or surgery, which can help to minimize and slow the loss of vision.

  1. Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)

This particular group of diseases gradually obliterating peripheral vision (also referred to as side vision) as well as night vision by damaging the light-sensitive cells known as rods and cones within the retina, which is the light-sensitive lining located in the back part of your eye. The very first symptom that you will experience with this disease is night blindness, and it is generally observed during the teenage years or young adult years. Unfortunately, individuals who receive the diagnosis of this disease tend to progress to complete blindness—most often by 40 years of age.

  1. Diabetic Retinopathy

This disease is found in as many as 45 percent of individuals who are diagnosed with diabetes, and it causes progressive damage to the eye’s retina, leading to total blindness if left untreated. Diabetics can sometimes experience high blood sugar levels, and when this happens, it can result in damage to the blood vessels within the body, which includes those within the eyes. If the tiny capillaries in the eyes leak fluids and blood, the retina can well up and result in cloudy or blurry vision. Therefore, it is important to regulate blood sugar levels to help minimize the damage that this disease causes, although it is possible to slow its progression with surgical procedures like laser.

  1. Amblyopia

This condition is more commonly referred to as lazy eye, and it is the lack of development of the central vision in one eye that tends to develop prior to six years of age. While it is not necessarily caused by a specific health condition or problem, the vision is one eye just fails to develop normally or complete during childhood. Early diagnosis and treatment are both essential to reversing lazy eye, which is why it is so important for babies to undergo a comprehensive eye exam by a professional optometrist by six months of age and again at three years of age. If the condition is left untreated, especially until the individual is an adult, the condition is often impossible to improve or reverse.

  1. Traumatic Brain Injury

This condition refers to head traumas, brain injuries, and stroke, which can all result in a change to the visual field, significantly blurred vision, glare sensitivity, eye misalignment, reduced visual acuity, and depth perception issues.

  1. Cataracts

Cataracts tend to occur when the eye lens gets to cloudy that light is simply unable to reach the retina, and loss of vision is the result. Cataracts can be caused by genetics, injury, disease, and long-term exposure to UV rays of the sun, and as a general rule, they occur as a person gets older. In an eye that is considered healthy, a cataract can be surgically removed and replaced with an intraocular lens implant in order for vision to be stored. In an eye with additional disease, cataract surgery may not be an option, resulting in low vision. 

As long as these eye conditions and diseases that cause low vision can be caught early on, they can generally be controlled or at least slowed down by medicines, treatments, and surgeries. It is absolutely crucial that these conditions and diseases that steal your vision by caught in the earliest possible stages, which is when treatments are able to provide the highest possible benefit. Annual comprehensive eye examinations are your best friend to ensuring that you enjoy the best possible vision now and in the future.

If you need to schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam, contact us at Performance Vision today.

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