Blindness

Blindness is the inability to see. It may also refer to visual impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

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The number of people suffering from age-related blindness and blindness due to uncontrolled diabetes is increasing around the world. On the other hand, blindness caused by infection is decreasing as a result of good public health measures. 

Blindness is a lack of vision, also known as visual impairment. It may also refer to a loss of vision that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Three-quarters of all blindness can be prevented or treated.

Partial blindness means that the person has very limited vision. Complete blindness means that the person cannot see anything or has no perception of light.

People with a vision worse than 20/200 are considered legally blind.

Causes of Blindness

The leading causes of blindness are:
Diabetes
Glaucoma
Age-related macular degeneration
Accidents (such as chemical burns or sports injuries)
Cataracts 
Onchocerciasis (river blindness)
Trachoma
Leprosy
Vitamin A deficiency

Vitamin A is needed to keep the outer surface of the eye moist and healthy. Vitamin A deficiency leads to decreased production of a photosensitive pigment in the rods of the eye resulting in night blindness. Left untreated, the patient may become irreversibly blind.

Accidents/accidental trauma to the eyes such as opening champagne/sparkling wines, racquetball, fireworks, chemical burns, or injuries from cords or fishing hooks can result in blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the complications associated with diabetes and if left untreated, can cause blindness.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative disorder affecting the macula at the back the eye. Early diagnosis and treatment by an eye specialist is the key to prevent blindness.

Glaucoma is usually due to a build-up of pressure within the eye which causes damage to the cells in the optic nerve transmitting visual information from eye to the brain. The damage is progressive, with loss of peripheral vision followed by reductions in central vision and blindness.

Retinal detachment occurs with ageing. However, inflammation of the retina or myopia (nearsightedness) may cause the retina to be pulled and can lead to its detachment.

Blindness Treatment 

Blindness due to some causes such as infection, vitamin A deficiency or glaucoma can be prevented through early detection and appropriate treatment. Although vision loss cannot be restored, medical and surgical treatment can help the disease from further progressing and resulting in complete blindness.

Most serious forms of vision loss are painless and the absence of pain in no way diminishes the urgent need to get medical care. Many forms of vision loss will need to be treated early to prevent blindness.


Blindness prevention tips include the following: 

Vitamin A deficiency should be treated promptly to prevent scarring of the eye and ensuing blindness
Achieve good control of diabetes and go for regular eye examinations
The majority (90 percent) of eye injuries can be prevented by becoming aware of safety practices and using proper eye protection. At home, take these steps to help keep your eyes safe from injury:
o Install good lights and handrails at stairs to help reduce the chances of tripping and falls, especially if you have elderly family members living with you
o Sharp corners and edges of furniture may be padded or cushioned
o When using lawn equipment, fertilisers and pesticides, use protective eyewear
o Avoid toys with sharp points, shafts, spikes, rods and shard edges to minimise the likelihood of eye injuries in children



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