In a majority of the world, eye disease is the leading cause of blindness. Your eyes and brain work together so you can see. The human eye is a complex organ made up of many different parts including the cornea, iris, lens and retina. These parts all work together to focus on light and images. Your eyes use the optic nerves to send what you see to your brain to process. In eyes that work properly, this process happens instantly. However, when the eyes don’t work properly, either through illness or injury, blindness can occur.

Vision problems can begin to develop even before a baby is born. Sometimes this is due to parts of the eyes not forming properly. For example, a child’s eyes might look fine, but because their optic nerve isn’t formed properly, the brain has trouble processing the information. Blindness can also be genetic or inherited, which means that the eye problem or disease is passed down from the parents through genes. Blindness can also be caused by an accident, which causes a serious injury to the eye. And lastly, the majority of blindness is caused by diseases like diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration.

Loss of eyesight or blindness in people with diabetes is a national health problem. In fact, people with diabetes are 25 times more likely to become blind than those without diabetes. Unfortunately, the disease does not have any early warning symptoms such as pain, and vision may not change until the disease becomes serious. One of the most frightening aspect of diabetes is that people with diabetic eye disease do not realise that their eyesight is slowly deteriorating.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens. The lens is contained in a sealed capsule and as old cells die they become trapped within the capsule. Over time, the cells accumulate causing the lens to cloud, making images look blurred or fuzzy. For most people, cataracts are a natural result of the ageing process, and are most common in people over the age of 60. They are also very treatable if detected early which can reduce the risk of serious visual impairment or blindness.

Lastly, age-related macular degeneration is a retinal degenerative disease that causes a progressive loss of central vision. This eye disease is the leading cause of blindness and may first be notice as a blurring of central vision. This is particularly noticeable when reading or doing up close work like stitching. As the disease progresses, blind spots may form within the central visual field.

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