6 Common Eye Conditions That Can Cause Blindness
It’s Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness in the United States. Become your own eye health advocate by getting to know the signs of Glaucoma, and other conditions that have the potential to cause temporary or permanent vision loss if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Diseases and Conditions That Can Cause Blindness:
Primarily, most cases of blindness and vision loss are caused by one of the following age-related conditions:
Glaucoma – Often referred to as a disease that affects peripheral vision; Glaucoma is hard to diagnose as there are no noticeable early-stage symptoms. This lifelong eye disease causes increasing eye pressure due to backed-up fluid behind the eye. This pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve, and the severity of the pressure helps diagnose the type of Glaucoma a patient is suffering from. The most common type Glaucoma is hereditary, which means it is passed along through family lines. Most people do not go blind from Glaucoma, but irreparable vision loss can occur if left untreated.
Diabetic Retinopathy – This eye disease affects those with diabetes. High blood sugar levels in these individuals can cause damage to blood vessels in the retina. Many diabetics have non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) – the early stage of this condition. Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR) is the advanced stage of this condition. The early stage has no symptoms, so the condition usually goes unnoticed until vision is affected. Prompt treatment after diagnosis is needed to prevent permanent vision damage.
Cataract – Usually related to aging (although sometimes found in children and newborns), cataracts are the clouding of the eye’s lens. More than 22.3 million people in the U.S. suffer from cataracts. While the condition is not painful, symptoms include blurred or double vision, seeing a milky or yellowish spot in the sightline, film over the eyes, or a constant change in eye glass prescription with no discernible change in vision. Cataracts can also be caused by trauma or certain medications.
Stroke – Double and decreased vision can be signs of a stroke. The area of the brain affected by the stroke determines the impact on a person’s visual field. In some cases, visual defects caused by a stroke can improve with early detection and treatment. Although there may still be permanent defects depending on the type and severity of stroke, the earlier it is treated, the higher likelihood any negative effects can be reversed.
Retinal Detachment – A retinal detachment can happen at any age, but is more common in those over 40, have a family history of the condition, have myopia (extreme near-sightedness), or suffer from other eye disorders. Symptoms of retinal detachments include floaters or “specks” that float in the field of vision, light flashes, or the appearance of a curtain in the line of sight. This condition is considered a medical emergency, and if not treated promptly can lead to permanent vision loss.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) – With around 3 million cases every year, pink eye is one of the most common conditions in the United States. Caused by either a virus, bacteria, or even an allergic reaction. Seek medical attention if your eye feels itchy, has a painful or burning sensation, or a discharge that causes the eyelids to stick in the morning to determine your treatment plan.
MD Now Urgent Care is perfect for minor eye emergencies that need more attention than initial first aid. By keeping regularly scheduled yearly physicals, our healthcare providers can monitor your ongoing eye health to see if a referral for a specialist is needed to diagnose or treat an eye condition.
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