285 million people worldwide have some degree of vision loss. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) 14 million people in the United States alone are visually impaired (defined as visual acuity of 20/50 or worse). There are many conditions that can gradually cause impaired vision and even eventual total blindness.
Leading Causes of Destroyed Vision
The following are some of the most common conditions that can affect vision.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – macular degeneration affects nearly two million Americans over age 50. This incurable condition normally causes loss of central vision; most people affected by the condition retain some peripheral vision. AMD has two forms – dry and wet.
The dry form occurs when deposits called drusen are present on the macula, the central part of the retina. Over time these deposits build up, causing further central vision impairment. In the wet form, which makes up only 10% of AMD cases, abnormal blood vessels develop under the macula, causing the release of blood and fluids into the eye. These fluids distort the vision, eventually resulting in complete loss of central vision.
Risk factors for AMD:
Heredity – there is some evidence that if you have a family member with AMD, you are more likely to develop the disease
While there is no cure for AMD, there are some promising methods of alleviating some of the symptoms of the condition, such as anti-angiogenesis medications and laser therapy. In addition, a significant study called the AREDS study (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) showed strong indications that certain vitamins can be therapeutic in reducing vision loss in some patients with moderate to severe dry AMD. The research involved the use of vitamins E and C, as well as zinc, copper, and beta carotene. It is also thought that these nutrients may be beneficial in preventing onset of the condition if taken regularly.