Vision loss can be scary, and it’s especially unnerving when you don’t know the cause. Whether you experience loss of sight in one eye or gradual or total eyesight loss, there can be many different causes for your loss of sight. Read on to learn some of the things that can cause vision loss and what you can do about it.

Different Types of Eyesight Loss

Vision loss can be gradual or sudden, affecting just one eye, or both eyes. Each type of vision loss can have a different cause, so it’s important to accurately describe your vision loss to your doctor. There are several types of vision loss.

  • Central vision loss: Impacts the center field of vision
  • Peripheral vision loss: Impacts the edges, or outer fields of vision
  • Total vision loss: Can occur in one or both eyes
  • Partial vision loss: Describes anything from blurred vision to obscured vision to night blindness

Loss of sight in one eye or in both can be partial or total, and can occur in different fields of vision. Sudden loss of sight in one eye or both eyes is serious and warrants immediate medical attention. While some types of vision loss are more concerning than others, all should be addressed by your eye doctor.

Causes of Vision Loss

There are many causes of eyesight loss, from very serious to benign. Some are easily remedied, while others require ongoing treatment or surgery. Below are some causes of vision loss and possible treatment options.

Diseases That Impact Vision

The following diseases can cause loss of sight in one eye or both and, without adequate intervention, can eventually lead to blindness.

  • Autoimmune disease: Causes the body to attack its own tissue, creating inflammation throughout the body. Proper treatment can minimize potential vision loss.
  • Brain tumor: Can put pressure on the optic nerve and pathways, impacting vision.
  • Cataracts: Common eye disease causing clouding of the eye’s lens with age. Cataract surgery is relatively easy and very successful.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: Damage to the retina caused by bleeding and leaking in the blood vessels as a result of high blood sugar. Proper diabetes management reduces the risk of this condition.
  • Glaucoma: Caused by a rise in fluid pressure inside the eyes, which damages the optic nerve. Open angle glaucoma is a chronic condition with symptoms progressing slowly over time, while closed angle glaucoma can appear suddenly, progress quickly, and is painful. Both can be treated with medication or surgery to preserve vision.
  • Heart disease or abnormalities: Hardening of the arteries or inflammation in the circulatory system impacts blood flow to your eyes. Treating heart disease reduces the impact on your vision.
  • Macular degeneration: Typically age-related progressive disorder impacting the macula, or the center part of your retina, leading to central vision loss. In some cases, medication can slow the progression of vision loss.
  • Neurological disease: Disrupts the neural pathways between the eye and brain, leading to temporary or permanent vision loss. Treating the neurological disease sometimes resolves the vision loss.
  • Optic nerve disease: Caused by loss of blood flow to the optic nerve, this condition often causes sudden loss of sight in one eye with no pain. Medication can be used effectively if treatment is received before the optic nerve is permanently damaged.

Conditions That Impact Vision

Various conditions can impact your vision. Some permanently threaten your vision, or even your life, while others are extremely treatable.

  • Amblyopia: Also called “lazy eye,” this common condition impairs vision in one eye because the eye and brain don’t communicate properly. Since the brain may start ignoring input from the affected eye, early treatment can improve vision impairment.
  • Central Retinal Artery Occlusion: Also called “eye stroke,“ it’s caused by blocked blood flow to the eye, often due to low blood pressure or medication. It can cause the tissue to die, resulting in permanent vision loss, so it’s considered an emergency.
  • Dry eye: Without adequate lubrication, dry eye can cause corneal scarring and even permanent vision loss. Eye drops may resolve it, or therapy or surgery can help.
  • Giant cell arteritis: Inflammation that impacts the blood vessels in the head and neck, sometimes causing vision problems. Steroid treatment can be effective.
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA): Also known as Wegener’s granulomatosis, this inflammation of the blood vessels is caused by the immune system. Medications can treat this inflammatory disease.
  • Injury: Injuries to the eyes or head can cause vision loss. Ensure timely medical intervention to assess the damage and treat it correctly.
  • Migraine: Can cause visual disturbances like tunnel vision, auras, loss of vision on one side, or complete loss of vision. Avoiding bright lights, loud sounds, and finding the right migraine medication can help. Symptoms may also be signs of serious medical issues, so seek medical attention immediately if this is new.
  • Retinal tears or detachment: First appearing as floating spots or flashing lights in vision, followed by loss of partial vision, this condition requires immediate assessment to prevent permanent vision loss.
  • Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA): Caused by a blood clot blocking blood flow to the brain. Both stroke and TIAs (or “mini strokes”) can cause abnormal vision and other symptoms like sudden severe headache, drooping on one side, abnormal speech, and more. TIAs cause symptoms to come and go in a matter of minutes because the clot moves on or dissolves. Strokes cause symptoms to continue to worsen. Either condition requires emergency medical treatment.
  • Very high blood pressure: Causes increased pressure within the eye, impacting vision.

Can Laser Eye Surgery Correct Age-Related Sight Loss?

There are so many causes of vision loss, it can be hard to determine what’s causing your impairment. As such, it’s important to see your ophthalmologist right away, even if you’ve determined it’s not an emergency. Many causes of sight loss can be treated successfully when caught early. Age-related vision loss should also be addressed as soon as possible so it can be treated before it progresses.

If you experience loss of sight in one eye or both eyes due to age-related causes, visit an eye surgeon to determine whether laser eye surgery can be used to correct your vision problems. In some cases, laser eye surgery can be extremely effective.

The world class eye surgeons at Dello Russo Laser Vision have significant experience providing personalized laser eye treatments for a variety of common vision problems. Read our LASIK FAQs to learn more about laser eye surgery and LASIK recovery time. Then make an appointment today to discover how we can help improve your vision loss.


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