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Cataracts and Loss of Vision

Americans strongly believe that blindness and severe vision loss would
have a significant negative impact on their quality of life. This is
according to a recent survey conducted by the American Foundation for the
Blind. Respondents to the survey said that losing one's sight would have
as much of a negative impact on their quality of life as paralysis.

loss of vision and blindness

According to the survey, health conditions which ranked highest in terms
of negative health impact were blindness (21%) and paralysis (21%),
followed by HIV/AIDS (16%), cancer (14%), stroke (11%), heart
attacks/disease (6%), diabetes (4%), and deafness (3%).

Of those Americans who feared blindness and severe vision loss, their
biggest concerns were losing their ability to live independently, followed
by not being able to read, properly identify medications, and not being
able to drive.

Less than half of those who feared vision loss were concerned about the
inability to watch television or go to the movies.

The results of this study clearly demonstrate that Americans are extremely
dependent on their vision and fear blindness more than almost any other

So, what are the leading causes of blindness?

The leading cause of blindness for white persons is age-related macular
degeneration (AMD), while the leading causes of blindness for blacks are
cataracts and glaucoma, according to an article in the journal, The
Archives of Ophthalmology.

Macular degeneration is a disorder of the retina that affects mostly older
people and causes gradual vision loss. Cataracts are caused by increasing
opacity in the lens of the eye, and glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve
caused by elevated pressure in the eye.

According to information in the article, blindness and low vision are
major causes of impairment among Americans. However, few population-based
studies of national scope have been carried out in the United States to
estimate the prevalence of visual impairment.

The researchers found that an estimated 937,000 (0.78 percent) Americans
older than 40 were blind. An additional 2.4 million Americans (1.98
percent) had low vision.

The leading cause of blindness among white persons was age-related macular
degeneration (54.4 percent of the cases), while among black persons,
cataract and glaucoma accounted for more than 60 percent of blindness.
Cataracts were the leading cause of low vision. Among Hispanics, the
leading cause of blindness was glaucoma.

The authors project that the number of blind persons in the United States
will increase by 70 percent to 1.6 million by 2020, with a similar rise in
the number of people with low vision.

Blindness or low vision affects approximately one in 28 Americans older
than 40 years. The specific causes of visual impairment, and especially
blindness, vary greatly by race/ethnicity. The prevalence of visual
disabilities will increase markedly during the next 20 years, owing
largely to the aging of the U.S. population.