Understanding Vision Loss: What You Should Know

Vision loss is a widespread issue, with statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicating that it ranks among the top 10 disabilities in adults and is one of the most common disabilities observed in children.

What is Vision Loss?

Vision loss refers to the gradual or sudden decrease in vision, which can occur to anyone at any time and may be temporary or permanent. If you notice any signs of vision loss, it’s important to contact your eye doctor promptly to schedule an appointment.

Types of Blindness:

There are multiple types of blindness. Some of them are discussed below:

  • Partial Blindness: Also known as “low vision,” this condition involves having some remaining vision.
  • Complete Blindness: This rare condition results in the inability to see or detect light.
  • Congenital Blindness: Poor vision present from birth, often due to inherited eye conditions or birth defects.
  • Legal Blindness: Defined as having 20/200 vision in the best-seeing eye, or severe reduction in peripheral vision. This condition requires objects to be 10 times closer or larger to be seen compared to those with normal vision.
  • Nutritional Blindness: Vision loss resulting from vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to xerophthalmia and difficulty seeing in low light conditions.
  • Color Blindness: Also known as color deficiency, this condition alters the perception of colors, often due to inherited or acquired factors affecting the retina or optic nerve.
  • Preventable or Avoidable Blindness: Refers to blindness caused by treatable diseases, such as diabetes-related retinopathy or hypertensive retinopathy, which may occur due to lack of access to healthcare.

Causes of Sudden Vision Loss

Sudden vision loss happens quickly, usually within seconds to a few days, and can be due to various reasons.

  • Migraine: Some people with migraine experience visual symptoms, like zig-zag lines, sparkles, or tunnel vision, known as migraine aura. This is often accompanied by a headache and can last for a short time.
  • Keratitis: Inflammation of the cornea, called keratitis, can occur more in those who wear contact lenses. It causes blurred vision, pain, and sensitivity to light, and is usually treated with prescription medication.
  • Conjunctivitis: Also known as pinkeye, conjunctivitis is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva, causing redness, blurriness, and sometimes vision loss. It often resolves on its own or with antibiotic eye drops for bacterial cases.
  • Eye Strain: Staring at screens for too long can lead to temporary vision loss or blurriness. Taking breaks and practicing the 20-20-20 rule—looking at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds—can help prevent eye strain.
  • Corneal Abrasion: Injury to the eye can cause sudden vision loss, which may be temporary or permanent depending on the severity. It’s essential to see an eye doctor for proper assessment and treatment.

How Can I Deal With My Vision Difficulties?

If you’re experiencing vision problems that interfere with your daily activities, it’s important to see your doctor. They can diagnose and treat any underlying issues causing your vision loss. Your doctor may also refer you to specialists who can help manage your vision problems. Here are some specialists you might work with:

  • Ophthalmologist: Specializes in treating eye diseases that cause vision problems.
  • Optometrist: Manages vision problems and may prescribe corrective lenses.
  • Low Vision Specialist: Prescribes optical aids like magnifiers or telescopes to enhance vision.
  • Physical Therapist: Helps with balance and mobility issues and teaches cane use if needed.
  • Occupational Therapist: Assists with daily activities and teaches how to use optical aids effectively.
  • Social Worker or Therapist: Provides emotional support and coping strategies for dealing with vision loss.