Most people think that being blind is a condition that one is either born with, or that one acquires through traumatic injury, or with age. While these assumptions are true, they neglect to take into account the whole picture, and the very real risk of blindness that many Americans face. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk, and protect your vision. In order to protect the health of your eyes, you will need to know what can cause blindness, how you can reduce your risk, and what treatments are available.
What can cause you to go blind?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that among Americans who are older than 50, about 1,600,000 are affected by macular degeneration. Other potential causes of blindness include eye infections, complications from diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma, and injuries. In fact, approximately 11% of Americans with diabetes are visually impaired in some way, according to the CDC. One specific condition, corneal blindness, has claimed the vision of more than 8 million people around the world. This form of blindness may be the result of a genetic defect, or injury.
There are ways to reduce your risk of blindness.
Did you know that your local ophthalmologist or optometrist can do more than just prescribe you a new prescription for eye glasses? With a regular eye exam, your eye care specialist can detect if you have an eye infection, or if there are any other complications or conditions that put you at risk of going blind. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, more than half of all the at-risk adults in the U.S. have neglected to visit their eye doctors this past year, despite being at a higher risk of losing their vision.
The key to reducing your risk is to visit an eye doctor regularly, but especially when there are complications. It is also important to protect your eyes from traumatic injuries with proper eye wear protection, and by avoiding risky behaviors. If you pursue LASIK eye surgery, it is important to closely monitor for rare eye infections that can result from the surgery.
If you’re at risk, there are treatments that may be able to help.
Fortunately, for individuals that are at risk for corneal blindness due to a corneal disease, it was just announced that the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute has conducted groundbreaking research for the treatment of those diseases. Researchers have found a way to create a scaffold for stem cells, allowing them to grow successfully and eventually be grafted onto the cornea. Eye infections in particular are very treatable with antibiotics, or steroids, but when conditions are not monitored and treated promptly, a person’s risk for blindness increases dramatically.
If you notice any sudden changes in your vision, or suspect that you may be experiencing an infection, then it is important to seek prompt medical attention. Experiencing vision loss may not be among your top health concerns, but it is a real risk for many aging individuals, those with diabetes, or anyone at increased risk of eye infection. Knowing what can cause blindness, how to mitigate the risks, and what treatments are available can help you to better understand the need for regular eye exams, and to be more aware of risk factors. More can be found here.