Winning Solutions for Failing Sight
Serving Our Community Since 1979

Eye Conditions
Causing Low Vision

There are many different conditions that can cause low vision, and each condition affects sight in a different way. Below is a brief description of some of these diseases, including Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, Cataracts and Glaucoma.

Macular Degeneration:

The macula is the central part of the retina and is responsible for reading and other tasks that require the detection of fine detail. Macular Degeneration occurs when the macula becomes either thin (dry macular degeneration) or elevated and uneven due to leaking blood vessels under the retina (wet macular degeneration). People with macular degeneration have mostly peripheral vision and blurry or no central vision.

While the causes of macular degeneration are still not well understood, smoking has been shown to be a major risk factor - probably the most important controllable risk factor.  Even second-hand smoke is implicated.  If you don't smoke, don't start.  If you smoke, stop.

Diabetic Retinopathy:

Diabetes can damage the capillaries of the retina, causing the retina to leak fluid onto the macula, and making the retina swell and blur vision. Without treatment, new blood vessels will grow along the retina and bleed, potentially destroying the retina. People with diabetic retinopathy have blurred and spotty vision.  A comperhensive eye exam can detect the early stages of diabetic retinopathy before symptoms appear.


A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. Because the lens focuses the eye, a person's vision blurs when the lens becomes cloudy, just as if one was trying to look at something through a waterfall. Glare can also be a significant problem for people with cataracts.


Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the normal pressure in the eye rises. This pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve and other parts of the eye. People with the most common type, open angle glaucoma, lose their peripheral vision, and as the disease worsens, the field of vision narrows.

glaucoma can usually be controlled, but it is important to catch it before it does irreparable damage.  You should have a dilated-eye exam regularly, which will include a check that glaucoma isn't sneaking up on you.

Other causes:

The above are four of the most common causes of low vision, but there are more.  If you have low vision, your eye doctor can help you figure out why.  Whether or not you have low vision, your eye doctor can recommend ways to minimize the risk of your eyesight getting worse.

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