What is Visual Impairment?

Visual Impairment is basically a term designated by ophthalmologists to define vision loss of any sort. These losses in vision can vary from partial to complete blindness and are untreatable. Doctors prescribe the use of eyeglasses, contact lenses or vision correction surgeries for the reduction of the problem. Visual impairment is mostly an end consequence of a serious eye disorder.

Diseases Responsible for Visual Impairment

Many of the visually impaired are born with some form of blindness which is untreatable. However, in the rest of the cases, visual impairment develops with age, and can be a result of many common diseases like:

·        Cataracts

Occurring in the eye lens, cataracts are age related and take form after forties, and in some cases, seventies or eighties. With age, the protein structure within the lens alters, forming clumps within the lens and blocking off the incoming light. This causes the retinal image to appear hazy or blurry.

·        Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy includes disorders developed in the retina due to presence of diabetes. There are two types of diabetic retinopathies: Proliferative and Non-proliferative, with the latter more common than the former.

In non-proliferative retinopathy, eye capillaries located behind the optical region form pouches by ballooning up, losing their ability of controlling the transport of substances. In proliferative retinopathy, old blood vessels close off, promoting growth of new retina and forming scar tissues. The scar tissues lead to retinal detachment and eventual blindness.

·        Glaucoma

Damage of optic nerve results in glaucoma and is considered as one of the most common causes for the visually impaired. If detected in early ages, glaucoma is easily treatable. However, only 10% of the patients get it diagnosed on time, as it does not show any symptoms or signs. The only way it can be diagnosed is if the patient has regular glaucoma screening and vision exams.

·        Age-Related Macular Degeneration

One of the leading causes of blindness in the elderly people, it is a visual disorder symbolized by the degeneration of macula in the retina. Macula is a tissue layer located in the center of retina that is responsible for sharp and central vision.

Treatment Options for the Visually Impaired

Although visual impairment is mostly irreversible, it can be treated in some cases as well. The major solutions for treating visual impairments are contact lenses or eyeglasses. In cases where the disease has progressed significantly however, glasses or contact lenses are not enough, and further procedures have to be considered. These options may include:

  • Regular Eye drops and Medications
  • Surgeries for Lens Replacement
  • Correction of Vision through Laser

Blindness can be avoided often if diagnosis and treatment is considered and acted upon on time. Each problem is unique like the patient himself, and different options are considered by the eye doctor for the visually impaired in different cases. However, it is highly recommended that any disturbance or discomfort in the vision be reported to a doctor immediately and eye exams be followed up yearly for assurance of healthy eye sight.

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