Age-Related Macular Degeneration obstructs central vision and occurs when the central part of the retina, known as the macula, has been damaged. The disease takes two forms—wet and dry. Wet AMD is more serious and is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina that leak fluid, causing vision loss. Dry AMD occurs when cells on the retina begin to deteriorate. Smoking has been identified as a risk factor for AMD.
Glaucoma obstructs peripheral vision and is caused by damage to the optic nerve. People with glaucoma often have difficulty moving through their surroundings because they can’t see what is around them. The disease has no early symptoms; regular eye pressure screenings are the only way to detect it. African Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans are at a higher risk for glaucoma.
Cataracts obstruct vision with overall haze, loss of contrast, trouble distinguishing colors, and increased sensitivity to glare. This condition often occurs as a natural part of the aging process because the lens of the eye becomes more opaque with time. Other risk factors include family history, hypertension, diabetes, and increased exposure to sunlight, particularly ultraviolet B radiation. Surgical treatments can restore vision by removing the cataract and inserting a lens implant.
Diabetic Retinopathy is caused when blood vessels in the retina weaken and leak. In later stages, abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina. It can cause blurred vision as well as floaters and flashers, which appear in someone’s field of vision as clouds, dust, or streaks (floaters), and flashing lights (flashers) akin to “seeing stars” from being hit in the eye. This disease can result in a sudden loss of vision.