Blindness is a lack of vision. It may also refer to a loss of vision that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
- Partial blindness means you have very limited vision.
- Complete blindness means you cannot see anything and do not see light.
People with vision worse than 20/200 are considered legally blind in most states in the United States.
Blindness has many causes. In the United States, the leading causes are diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and accidents (such as chemical burns or sports injuries).
Worldwide, the leading causes of blindness are cataracts, onchocerciasis (river blindness), trachoma, leprosy, and vitamin A deficiency.
Other causes include:
It is important for a blind person to be able to dress, eat, function independently, and stay safe. Many services are available that provide the training and support that allow blind people to function independently.
Sudden vision loss is always an emergency, even if you have not completely lost all vision. You should never ignore loss of vision, thinking it will get better.
Contact an ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room immediately. Most serious forms of vision loss are painless, and the absence of pain in no way diminishes the urgent need to get medical care. Many forms of vision loss only give you a short amount of time to be successfully treated.
A complete and thorough eye examination will be performed. The treatment plan will depend on the cause.
Review Date: 8/22/2008
Reviewed By: Paul B. Griggs, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2009 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.