Am I at Risk of Vision Loss?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, June 8, 2021

Did you know? Vision loss is the most prevalent disability in adults and children.

Many factors contribute to vision loss so knowing one’s risk of developing vision loss can help a patient be proactive about their eye health.

Schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor near you who can diagnose and manage any vision problems.

SEE RELATED: Does Smoking Affect the Eyes? 

Find an eye doctor near you

What are the common causes of vision loss?

Below are the most common causes of vision loss and their associated risk factors.

1. Macular Degeneration (AMD) 

AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over the age of 60. This condition occurs when the central portion of the retina (the macula) responsible for colorful, sharp central vision begins to lose function.

Early stages of AMD usually go unnoticed, but later stages of the disease produce symptoms like dark or blurry areas in your central vision, blurred vision, and problems with color perception.

While there’s no cure for AMD, certain treatments, such as injections and laser, can help reduce the risks of vision loss and slow down its progression.

Risk factors for developing AMD include:

  • Aging
  • Family history of AMD
  • Farsightedness
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Long-term sun exposure
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

2. Cataracts

    A healthy lens is clear and allows light to pass through it undisturbed. Cataracts are when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy.

    Common symptoms of cataracts include cloudy or blurred vision, light sensitivity, difficulty seeing at night, double vision in the affected eye, and seeing colors as yellowish or faded.

    Risk factors for developing cataracts include:

    • Aging
    • UV exposure
    • Diabetes
    • Extended use of corticosteroids
    • Hypertension
    • Previous eye surgery, injury, or inflammation
    • Smoking

    3. Diabetic Retinopathy

    Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a complication of  both Type 1 and 2 diabetes. It affects the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye called the retina.

    Diabetic retinopathy shows no symptoms in it’s early stages but can eventually lead to blindness. As it develops, it can cause blurred vision, impaired color vision, dark spots in your visual field and increased floaters.

    Risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy include:

    • African American, Hispanic, and Native American ethnicities
    • Family history of DR
    • High cholesterol or blood pressure
    • Length of time from diabetes diagnosis — the longer you’ve had it, the higher your chances of developing visual complications
    • Obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Smoking
    • Uncontrolled blood sugar

    If you experience any symptoms are at a high risk of developing diabetic retinopathy contact an eye doctor near you.

    4. Glaucoma

    Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases caused by a pressure buildup within the eye. Internal eye pressure that is too high can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss.

    Getting regular eye exams is crucial since symptoms don’t usually manifest in the early stages of glaucoma. Advanced or rapidly progressing glaucoma can present with a variety of symptoms, including headaches, nausea, severe eye pain and redness, seeing halos around lights and blurred vision

    Risk factors for developing glaucoma include:

    • African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
    • Being 60 years or older
    • Certain medications, like corticosteroids
    • Family history of glaucoma
    • High myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness)
    • Previous eye injury or certain eye surgeries
    • Thin corneas
    • Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and sickle-cell anemia

    Multiple factors contribute to vision loss and eye disease, and some may even be relevant to you.

    LEARN MORE:  Guide to Eye Health

    If you think you may be at risk for vision loss or experience any of the symptoms listed above, contact an eye doctor near you.