Leading Causes of Blindness in the United States

The National Institute estimates that there are at least 3 million Americans with significant visual impairments, 1 million of whom are considered legally blind. At TRES VISION Group, our doctors routinely screen for the conditions that most frequently rob adults of their vision. In this blog, we share some of the leading causes of blindness so that our patients know what to look out for:

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition in which the center of the retina. Most people with AMD have dry AMD, though about 10% have wet AMD which is potentially more damaging to vision.

Because patients with AMD lose only their central vision, they are not at risk for going completely blind. However, not having central vision leaves a person unable to read, work, drive, see faces and carry out many other vital activities.

Women and Caucasian people are more likely to develop AMD. Smoking, obesity, and having high cholesterol are also risk factors associated with the disorder.


The lens of the eye is normally transparent so that light can easily pass through the eye. When cataracts develop, a cloudiness forms over the lens that makes it more difficult for the brain to process images. Over time, cataracts can make vision progressively hazy to the point of legal or total blindness.

Fortunately, blindness caused by cataracts is reversible. Cataracts can be treated with a laser surgery that replaces the natural lens with an intraocular lens (IOL). This synthetic lens allows patients to see normally again and will not develop new cataracts.

The most common factor for having cataracts is age. Approximately half of Americans who reach the age of 80 will develop cataracts. Other risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure and sun exposure.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Patients who have diabetes — type 1 or type 2 — need to get regular eye examinations to monitor their vision. That is because diabetes is known to harm the blood vessels in the retina. This damage can cause macular edema, in which fluid accumulates in the macula, the center of the retina. If ignored, macular edema can lead to blindness.

Treatments like eye drops and vitrectomy surgery can help to preserve vision in patients with diabetic retinopathy. Still, the single best thing patients can do to protect their vision is to manage their diabetes. So long as blood sugar levels are controlled, retinal blood vessels should be fine.

In addition to blindness, diabetic retinopathy is linked to serious eye problems such as retinal detachment, glaucoma and vitreous hemorrhage.


Glaucoma is a progressive disease that affects the optic nerve. It is usually the consequence of a fluid buildup at the front of the eye. There are many categories of glaucoma, with the two most common types being open-angle glaucoma and acute angle-closure glaucoma.

Although there is no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments like iStent that enable fluids to pass through the eye more easily. This procedure should help postpone significant vision loss and reduce the risk of going blind in one or both eyes.

Risk factors for developing glaucoma include being over the age of 60, having thin corneas, having a family history of glaucoma and having black, Hispanic or Asian ancestry.

Make an Appointment

Whether or not there is a cure for your eye condition, there are always treatments available to preserve your vision for as long as possible. To consult with our outstanding team of eye doctors at TRES VISION Group, please send an email to us at appointments@tresvision.com or call (321) 984-3200.