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Home » Fact Sheet: Leading Causes of Blindness in the U.S.

Leading Causes of Blindness in the U.S.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans aged 60 and older, affecting an estimated 10 million people. AMD blurs the sharp, central vision needed for activities such as reading, sewing and driving. It is a painless disease that destroys the macula, the part of the eye that helps you see fine detail.

A person with AMD might view a scene like this:

Age related macular degeneration
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Cataracts commonly decrease vision in older adults. By age 80, more than half of all Americans have had a cataract or cataract surgery, amounting to 1.35 million cataract operations annually in the United States at a cost of $3.5 billion. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens that is typically related to aging.

A person with a cataract might view a scene like this:

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Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in American adults and the most common diabetic eye disease, affecting an estimated 4.1 million adults over the age of 40 in the United States. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the light-sensitive retina tissue in the back of the eye.

A person with diabetic eye disease might view a scene like this:

Diabetic retinopathy
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Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affect an estimated 2.2 million Americans. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eye slowly rises, which can damage the optic nerve and decrease vision. African Americans over age 40, everyone over age 60 but especially Mexican Americans, and people who have a family history of glaucoma are at a higher risk for this eye disease.

A person with glaucoma might view a scene like this:

Diabetic retinopathy
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Department of Health and Human Services NIH, the National Institutes of Health