What is Blindness?

This is a medical term (blindness) that means a person has no vision or sees shapes only. Commonly, blindness is caused by infections, accidents, genetic disorders, and other medical conditions. While some blindness types can be prevented and cured others cannot.


In other words, the inability to see or lack of vision is called by healthcare providers blindness. If a person experiences severe blindness, it is impossible to see even light. In such cases, the vision cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, eye drops, surgery, or other medical therapies. It is recommended to seek medical attention right away if you experience sudden vision loss.

Blindness Types

  • Partial blindness (still have some vision)
  • Complete blindness (a very rare condition when a person cannot see or detect light)
  • Congenital blindness (poor vision that a person is born with)
  • Legal blindness (it occurs when the central vision is 20/200 in the best eye when is corrected with contact lenses or glasses)
  • Nutritional blindness (in such cases, blindness occurs due to a vitamin A deficiency)

You may be interested in why color blindness (also called color deficiency) is not included in the list above. However, people see color in different ways and this condition can be inherited or acquired by damage or disease occurring in the retina or optic nerve. In case you see black, white, or gray shades, you might have achromatopsia.

Preventable or avoidable blindness are term that refers to a loss of vision that occurs in people with a treatable condition who do not receive medical care. A lack of access to eye care or doctors can cause these blindness cases. For example, people with diabetes and hypertension who do not receive care may experience diabetes-related retinopathy or hypertensive retinopathy.

How Common is Blindness?

Anyone can experience blindness and it is considered a common condition worldwide and in the United States. Approximately 1 million people are blind in the U.S. and about 43 million people are living with blindness in the entire world.


Check below for some symptoms that appear while blindness develops:

  • Photosensitivity (light sensitivity)
  • Floaters and flashers
  • Blurry vision
  • Sudden loss of vision

If you experience any of the previous symptoms, do not hesitate to visit a doctor.


Several factors can contribute to or even cause blindness. For example injuries, infections, and health conditions.

Eye Injuries

If you are experiencing any of the following injuries or trauma, it may lead to blindness. Usually, the damage is caused by:

  • Chemical burns
  • Fights
  • Toxins
  • Fireworks
  • Industrial accidents
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Sports


If you experience an infection it may increase your risk of vision loss or blindness. Examples include:

  • Rubella
  • Syphilis
  • Shingles
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Uveitis
  • Keratitis (such as acanthamoeba keratitis)
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Endophthalmitis
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Trachoma (is one of the preventable blindness causes)


The following conditions can cause blindness but in the most severe stages only. Check below some examples:

  • Retinitis pigmentosa – These include conditions that affect your retina. When the disease progresses, retina cells are destroyed leading to first vision problems.
  • Age-related macular degeneration – This condition impacts your macula, which is a part of the retina that controls central vision. Therefore, it leads to significant central vision loss.
  • Retinopathy of prematurity – It is a health condition that usually occurs in premature babies. This is an eye disease in which some blood vessels grow in the eye parts where they do not belong. As a result, vision loss and blindness happen.
  • Diabetes-related retinopathy – In such cases, vision loss occurs due to damage to the blood vessels in people with diabetes. If you do not receive treatment quickly, it may lead to blindness.
  • Cataracts – It is an eye condition that provokes vision loss due to clouding the lenses of the eyes. The most effective cataract treatment is surgery.
  • Glaucoma – If you experience this condition, it means you have optic nerve damage.
  • Leber hereditary optic neuropathy – This is an inherited gradual vision loss, which impacts more men than women. However, experts do not know why it happens.
  • Anophthalmia – People with this eye disease are born without one or both eyes.
  • Microphthalmos – A health condition in which someone is born with very small eyes. In any case, small eyes do not work as they should.
  • Stroke – This is a health condition that blocks the blood flow to the brain, which damages the area that is responsible for vision (such as the occipital lobe). As a result, it leads to vision loss.
  • Cancer – Orbital tumors or retinoblastoma are examples of eye cancers that lead to blindness.
  • Nutritional deficiencies – For good vision, you need certain vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin A, vitamin B, and others). Thus, a poor diet can provoke vision loss.


Doctors will perform an eye examination to check each eye for sight. However, blindness may affect one eye only. They can also perform some additional tests along with eye examinations. For example:

  • Visual field testing – This test helps the doctors to understand what you see above, below, and on either side without moving the eye.
  • The Snellen test – You may know about this test because you should read the lines of letters that your doctor asks. These letters get smaller as go down the page. The Snellen test measures your central vision (what you see in front of you).


The treatment options are different for people because they depend on the underlying condition and other factors. While some blindness types can be treated with medicines or glasses others not. Check below some blindness treatment methods:

  • Medicines – Doctors can prescribe medicines if the blindness is caused by infections.
  • Cataract surgery
  • Corneal transplant – During this procedure, a healthcare professional will replace the scarred cornea.
  • Retinal surgery – In such cases, the damaged retina is treated with laser or surgery. In some cases, are used both options.
  • Vitamin supplements – In case your blindness is caused by a vitamin deficiency, your doctor will prescribe some supplements to reverse vision loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent blindness?

While approximately all blindness cases are preventable, some of them cannot be prevented. Check below some tips that can help to reduce the risk of vision loss or complete blindness:

  • Perform regular eye examinations
  • Keep under control your blood sugar levels
  • It is recommended to wear protective glasses (including sunglasses) when working, riding a motorcycle, or during contact sports.
  • Adopt a healthy diet
  • Get and keep a healthy weight for you
  • Regular exercise
  • Manage existing health conditions (such as high blood pressure)
  • Quit smoking
  • Wash regularly your hands to avoid eye infections

Discuss with your healthcare professional for more details.

When should I visit my healthcare professional about vision problems?

It is recommended to immediate medical help if you experience any of the following cases. For example:

  • Flashes or new floaters in the vision
  • Experience an accident that damages your vision
  • Eye pain
  • Sudden loss of vision

What are the main causes of blindness?

The primary blindness cause in the United States is age-related eye disease (such as macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma). However, amblyopia and strabismus are also a common cause of vision loss and blindness. In case you have any questions, ask your healthcare provider.

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