The World Health Organization estimates that 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide: 246 million have low vision, and 39 million are blind. In many of these cases, vision loss and blindness could be prevented with the right care – but due to delayed treatment and lack of resources, a significant number of people face impaired vision unnecessarily. Here, the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute explains the leading causes of blindness, and what we can do about them.
Blindness is often the result of cataracts, the clouding of the lens of the eye from ageing, trauma or natural causes. People with cataracts can experience a dulling of colours, blurry or faded vision and even blindness. However, a large number of people suffering from cataract-induced blindness can be completely cured through a surgery that removes the cloudy lens and substitutes it with an artificial, corrected one. In addition, people can lower their chances of developing cataracts by wearing sunglasses and not smoking.
Glaucoma is caused when fluid inside the eyes gradually builds up, eventually damaging the optic nerve. While there is no cure for glaucoma, the disease’s progress can be halted through treatment, allowing many patients to live a higher quality of life. Prescription eye drops and surgery are both used to lower the pressure inside the eye and slow the development of vision problems. The earlier glaucoma is detected, the better chance there is that vision loss can be treated.
Macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that destroys central vision as the centre of the retina deteriorates. The leading cause of vision loss in the UK, macular degeneration typically falls into two categories: dry AMD and wet AMD. Dry AMD is caused by the build-up of of a deposit on the eye, and wet AMD forms when blood vessels grow underneath the macula, leaking and then damaging it. Wet AMD is more dangerous than dry AMD – if not properly treated, people with wet AMD can lose their vision within a matter of days. Though neither dry nor wet AMD have cures, laser surgery and medication can possibly treat the blood vessels and reduce the risk of severe vision loss.
Undercorrected Refractive Errors
Errors like near- and far-sightedness and astigmatism also account for a significant number of visual impairments, yet they often require just a simple pair of spectacles to correct them.
For all of these diseases and conditions, regular comprehensive eye exams and check-ups can make a world of difference. They allow for early detection and treatment, and they ensure that no one has to deal with preventable vision problems. This is why scheduling routine eye appointments for yourself and your family is so important – and it’s why we do what we do.
At the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute, we’ve made it our mission to help change lives by improving the vision of people in underserved communities. We provide access to doctors, medicine, surgery and other resources that allow for early detection and treatment of diseases that cause vision loss. By pairing treatment and hope with research and innovation, we can make the world a better place for this generation and the next.