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What are the Main Causes of Blindness?

Did you know that the leading causes of blindness and low vision in the United States are primarily age-related eye diseases? The reality is, blindness can affect each and every one of us, at any point in our lives! It is estimated that by 2030, roughly 6.6 million Americans over the age of 40 will experience blindness or loss of vision. Fortunately through awareness, education and preventative measures, we can lower this number! With this in mind, we’ve created a list of the four most common causes of blindness in the US.

1. Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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Commonly referred to as AMD, age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of impairment of reading and close-up vision among people over 65. AMD results in damage to one’s central vision, which is needed for common daily tasks such as reading and driving. According to estimates, 1.8 million Americans aged 40 years and older are affected by AMD and an additional 7.3 million are at substantial risk of developing AMD.

2. Glaucoma

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There are two major categories of glaucoma – “open angle” and “closed angle”. Open angle tends to progress over long period of time and typically goes unnoticed until the disease is very advanced. Closed angle glaucoma tends to appear suddenly and is quite painful. While vision loss tends to occur quickly, the associated pain means that most people seek medical attention before permanent damage occurs. If glaucoma is caught and treated early, many people can protect against serious vision loss.

3. Cataracts

Close-up photo of someone's eye with cataracts.

A cataract is a clouding of the eyes’ lens, and can occur at any age and for a variety of reasons, including genetics, age, trauma, skin disease, radiation, drug use and medication. Cataracts may be partial or complete, hard or soft, and stationary or progressive. They are the leading cause of visual impairment in the US, as well as the leading cause of blindness worldwide. It is estimated that 17.2% of Americans over 40 have cataracts.

4. Diabetic Retinopathy

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Commonly referred to as DR, typically occurs in four stages and is characterized by progressive damage to the blood vessels of the retina. Diabetic retinopathy is a common side effect of diabetes and is the leading cause of blindness in American adults.

Millions of adults in the United States are either legally blind or living with significant vision loss, and nearly 70% of these blind individuals are unemployed. Our mission here at IB Milwaukee is to help build a world where loss of vision does not mean loss of opportunity by providing meaningful employment opportunities for these individuals so they may gain independence and expand their career horizons.

For tips on how to maintain healthy eyesight, follow us on Twitter: @IBMilwaukee.

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