Blindness (cont.)

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Is blindness preventable?

Approximately 80% to 90% of the people who suffer from blindness in the world is preventable through a combination of education and access to good medical care. Most traumatic causes of blindness can be prevented through instruction in eye protection. Nutritional causes of blindness are preventable through proper diet. Most cases of blindness from glaucoma are preventable through early detection and appropriate treatment. Visual impairment and blindness caused by infectious diseases have been greatly reduced through international public-health measures.

The majority of blindness from diabetic retinopathy is preventable through careful control of blood-sugar levels, exercise, avoidance of obesity and smoking, and emphasis on eating foods that do not increase the sugar load (complex, rather than simple carbohydrates). There has been an increase in the number of people who are blind or visually impaired from conditions that are a result of living longer. As the world's population achieves greater longevity, there will also be more blindness from other diseases such as macular degeneration. However, these diseases are so common that research and treatment are constantly evolving. Regular eye examinations may often uncover a potentially blinding illness which can then be treated before there is any visual loss.

Patients who have untreatable blindness need tools and help to reorganize their habits and the way in which they perform their every day tasks. Visual aids, text-reading software, and Braille books are available, together with many simple and complex technologies to assist them in functioning more effectively. In the United States and most other developed nations, financial assistance through various agencies can pay for the training and support necessary to allow a blind person to function.

John Milton and Helen Keller are well known for their accomplishments in life despite being blind. There are countless other unnamed individuals with blindness, however, who, despite significant visual handicaps, have had full lives and enriched the lives of those who have had contact with them.

Medically reviewed by John P. Keenan, MD; Board Certified Ophthalmology
REFERENCES:
"Visual Impairment and Blindness" (fact sheet)
World Health Organization
"Eye Health Statistics at a Glance"
Compiled by American Academy of Ophthalmology


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/11/2013

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