This section includes information on some of the main causes of visual impairment today.
Albinism. Albinism is a pigment deficiency causing several physical conditions, including vision problems. People with albinism often have low vision, including severe light and glare sensitivity.
Cataracts. Cataracts are the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide. They are responsible for over 50% of the world’s blindness, over 20 million people. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye that causes light to be diffused as it enters the eye, impacting the clarity of the visual image. Most cataracts are a natural result of aging, but they can also be due to trauma to the eye.
Diabetic Retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes in which retinal blood vessels leak into the retina, causing macular edema (swelling). It is often caused by elevated blood sugar levels. Diabetic retinopathy causes over 8,000 cases of new blindness annually and is the primary cause of blindness for adults in the U.S.
Glaucoma. Glaucoma is the most common eye disease, affecting more than 80 million people worldwide. Glaucoma involves damage to the optic nerve, usually caused by fluid build-up and increased pressure inside the eye. The result is a loss of peripheral vision, and often difficulty seeing in dim lighting.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the foremost cause of vision loss among Americans who are 60 and older. AMD involves damage to the macula in the back of the eye resulting in loss of central vision. Since central vision is used for many tasks, including reading, this can result in a loss of independence.
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited eye disease found in over 100,000 people in the United States. It causes retinal degeneration and severe visual loss. It is a progressive disease that begins in childhood or adolescence, resulting in a loss of part of the visual field, along with reduced night vision. It often leads to severe visual impairment and sometimes total blindness.
Stargardt Disease. Stargardt disease is the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration, occurring in one in every 8,000 to 10,000 people worldwide. It causes gradual loss of central vision. It usually develops during childhood or adolescence, resulting in a loss of the central part of the visual field.