March is Save Your Vision Month. Organized by the American Optometric Association, this annual campaign focuses on public education regarding vision loss and the importance of regular eye examinations. The AOA started Save Your Vision Month back in 1927, and over the past century millions of people — and their eyesight — have benefited. Our eye doctors at Boston Eye Physicians & Surgeons discuss the symptoms of top eye diseases causing blindness and why early detection is so crucial.
Top Eye Diseases Causing Vision Loss
As per the CDC, the top eye diseases causing vision loss in the United States are primarily age-related. These include:
1. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) – This disease affects the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central detailed vision processing. There are two forms of ARMD: dry and wet. The first is far more common, accounting for as many as 90 percent of ARMD cases. Dry ARMD progresses slowly, gradually causing the loss of central vision. Wet ARMD occurs when irregular blood vessels behind the retina grow beneath the macula, leading to bleeding and leaking fluid. With wet ARMD, the loss of central vision happens quickly.
2. Cataracts – Worldwide, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness. While older people are more affected, cataracts, a clouding of the lens, can develop at any age. The good news is that cataract surgery to remove the lens and replace it with an artificial lens is one of the most common surgeries performed, with an extremely high success rate. While untreated cataract can gradually cause blindness, cataract surgery is the most successful surgery in the US to treat cataracts.
3. Diabetic retinopathy – Diabetes harms blood vessels in all parts of the body, and the eyes are among the most vulnerable areas. In the U.S., diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes, is the leading cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 and 74. Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eyeball. Diabetic patients who do not receive regular eye exams are most at risk, as early diagnosis can reduce vision loss. Regular eye exam can detect diabetes before the symptoms occur.
4. Glaucoma – This group of diseases causes damage to the optic nerve from elevated pressure within the eye. There are two major types of glaucoma. The most common, open-angle, progresses slowly. The patient may not notice their loss of vision until glaucoma has progressed significantly. Closed-angle glaucoma comes on suddenly, accompanied by pain and vision loss requiring immediate laser surgery.
Eye Disease Symptoms
Serious eye diseases have specific symptoms. Contact your eye doctor immediately if experiencing any of the following:
- Blurred vision
- Dark spot in the visual center field
- Double vision
- Eye pain
- Floaters or flashes of light
- Halos or glare
- Light sensitivity
- Peripheral vision loss
- Straight lines appear wavy
Schedule Your Consultation in Boston
If you are experiencing any eye disease symptoms, or if you are due for an eye examination, schedule a consultation at Boston Eye Physicians & Surgeons today by calling (617) 232-9600 or filling out our online form.