What are the major causes of vision loss?

Other than vision loss and blindness as a result of combat, there are many common types of eye problems that occur both in veterans and the general public. These visual complaints may include blurred vision, blind spots, floaters, halos, and other visual disturbances that need medical treatment.

Many vision problems that occur in older veterans are associated with aging, eye disease, an injury to the eye or a debilitating illness such as type 2 diabetes that results in eye complications. For instance, cataracts are more common in elderly adults and cause sensitivity to light and poor nighttime vision. Glaucoma often happens in older adults and can result in poor nighttime vision, loss of vision, and cloudiness of the lens of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy is still another common cause of blindness as a result of bleeding into the retina. A stroke or brain tumor can also cause vision problems.

Sometimes medications such as antihistamines taken for nasal allergies or some high blood pressure drugs can affect vision, too.

Sudden vision loss may indicate vascular occlusive disease of the eye or a detached retina, Colin McCannel, M.D., a retina specialist and medical director of the Jules Stein Eye Center, Santa Monica, says. These conditions require immediate attention.

Dr. Kelly Traver

Every year, 50,000 Americans lose their vision. One third of these cases are preventable through proper lifestyle measures and early detection and treatment.

The three major causes of blindness are:

  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma

While losing your vision in part or in its entirety isn't a do-or-die issue (though it can certainly make you more prone to accidents, which is), not being able to drive or work your regular job or hit your lips with lipstick can really ruin your day. Still, it seems that we accept age-related decline in vision as much as we accept age-related decline in income—that it's just part of life.

While it's true that some people are predisposed to lose some of their vision, you don't have to resign yourself to a blurry, dark, or colorless world as you get older. By taking steps to protect your eyes—especially from UV radiation—and feed them with the right nutrients, you'll arm yourself with the optimal optical arsenal. That's because what I really want you to do is make sure you don't lose sight of losing sight.

Dr. Louis B. Cantor, MD
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

Both men and women may experience difficulties with night vision associated with aging. Often times these symptoms can be lessened by appropriate glasses or by just using good lighting for certain tasks. It is important to have a complete eye exam to rule out cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration as causing symptoms that might be associated with or confused with “night blindness.” Vitamin deficiencies and retinitis pigmentosa may also lead to problems with night vision and can be diagnosed by your EyeMD.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.