Sight is among the five senses gifted to us. We can see things because the light reflected from objects enters the eyes, and electrical signals coming from the retina through the optic nerve reach the brain. Impairment of vision can happen due to eye disorders and certain medical conditions. Blindness can be partial or complete. Timely medical treatment, surgery, or medication can restore the vision, depending on the causes of blindness.
Our eyes have tremendous abilities and work in sync with the brain for instantly collecting information. Losing vision can severely impact one’s life, affecting the ability to perform daily tasks. In case of sudden vision loss, one should not delay in getting medical attention.
The National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB&VI) & Visual Impairment is a government scheme, launched in 1976, that undertakes various initiatives for reducing the prevalence of blindness. It aims to achieve a prevalence of blindness target of 0.3% by 2020. According to NPCB&VI, cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration, refractive error, and diabetic retinopathy are among the major causes of chronic blindness.
Glaucoma is among the leading causes of blindness that can be irreversible. It is an eye disease caused due to progressive damage to the optic nerve that is a network of a million individual nerve fibres and sends visual signals to the brain. It occurs when there is abnormally high pressure in the eye.
If the condition worsens, there could be a permanent vision loss. Among the vision problems, a person may also have night blindness. Glaucoma can be hereditary, too, say health experts. Other causes include blocked blood vessels inside the eye, inflammatory conditions, severe eye infections, etc.
Age-related Macular Degeneration
It is a disease that affects the eyes and can result in permanent vision loss in people over 60. The condition develops when the macula - central portion of the retina – wears off. Vision loss does not occur in the early stages. Vision loss can happen in later stages. Regular examination and proper treatment can slow the progress of this condition.
This condition, known as Diabetic Retinopathy, is a complication of type-1 or type-2 diabetes. When there is excess blood sugar in the body, there is a risk of lack of blood supply to the retina, owing to damage to the blood vessels. The symptoms include blurred vision. A person may also have an inability to see at night, which is among the symptoms for night blindness. The condition can also cause total loss of vision. However, in the early stages, blindness is preventable.
>>Check: Eye Care for People with Diabetes
Cataract is also among the leading causes of blindness and low vision problems across the world. In this condition, there is a clouding of eye lens owing to the building up of a protein mass. There are some risk factors for cataract. However, it is common in senior citizens. The treatment involves surgery for cataract removal. Lack of proper treatment owing to the expensive cost of cataract surgery or sometimes, a lack of awareness for medical care results in blindness in some cataract patients.
Besides the conditions mentioned above, blindness can also occur due to traumatic injuries, which can happen unexpectedly. For instance, loss of blood flow to the retina or optic nerve can lead to a condition known as an eye stroke. It can result in temporary vision loss or permanent vision loss in severe cases or when no proper care is given.
How to Prevent Vision Loss?
Our eyes are precious, and keeping them healthy should be a vital part of our health goals. It is possible to maintain healthy eyes and prevent vision loss.
Some essential things to do for preventing vision loss, as prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are given below.
- Go for a comprehensive dilated eye test
- Control diabetes by keeping blood sugar under check
- Understand your family’s medical history, including any eye disorders
- Have a nutritious diet including dark leafy greens and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Maintain an ideal body weight to prevent diseases like diabetes and hypertension
- Safeguard the eyes using protective eyewear, especially during sports and other activities, to prevent injuries
- Quit smoking as it is harmful to eye health, increasing the risk of age-related macular degeneration
- Protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays of the sun
Further, it is also essential to give sufficient rest for the eyes. Nowadays, increased use of mobile phones and computers has taken a toll on our eye health, causing dry eyes and vision problems. It is essential to follow some eye exercises for rejuvenation.
>>Also Read: 5 Nutrients That Will Protect Your Eyes
Treatment for critical illnesses is usually long-term, and the expenses can be high. Opting for a critical illness insurance plan is the ideal way to stay within easy reach of quality medical care and prevent a financial burden. Choose a Critical Mediclaim policy by Care Health Insurance (formerly Religare health insurance) that offers coverage for 32 major critical illnesses, including blindness.