We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Signs of Going Blind?

By Donn Saylor
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A variety of vision problems can be signs that someone is going blind; among these, blurriness, distortion, blind spots, light flashes, and double vision are some of the most common. Vision loss can be caused by many different risk factors and any symptoms should be regarded seriously. It should be noted, however, that just because an individual may have one or more of these signs, it does not automatically mean that blindness is imminent.

There are many causes of blindness. Stroke, epilepsy, migraine headaches, brain tumors, and injuries to the eye are just a few of the factors that can lead to an individual going blind. In most cases, the individual has a history of eye disorders or eye diseases, such as glaucoma, low vision, or detachment of the retinas. Macular degeneration, a progressive condition characterized by loss of vision brought on my retina damage, is another frequent cause of blindness.

Cloudy or blurred vision can be an early symptom. This condition creates hazy or shadowy eyesight and can be a telltale sign of any number of eye problems. Cloudy vision is often the first sign of more serious vision problems.

Distorted vision can be a scary but important sign of a serious eye problem. An individual with distorted vision sees shapes in an indistinct way. For example, when looking at a straight, flat surface like a desk or a countertop, someone with distorted vision may see the surface as undulating, warped, or uneven. This can be a symptom of macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.

Blind spots are another frequent symptom of vision loss. When a specific area of the vision field becomes obstructed, the individual loses eyesight in that one location, creating a blind spot. This is a serious medical concern that can signify any number of health problems.

Many individuals who are going blind will experience flashing lights in their vision. These lights can be bright or dull and may be seen in any number of colors. Light flashes can signal retinal detachment or tears that may ultimately cause blindness.

When an individual sees two visual images instead of one, the condition is referred to as diplopia. Double vision is common with several conditions, both of the eye and other parts of the body. Sinus problems, thyroid conditions, and drug or alcohol addiction can produce this effect, but it is also a symptom of impending vision loss.

Early Symptoms of Going Blind

It can be difficult to spot the warning signs when a person is starting to go blind. In many cases, early symptoms of blindness or vision loss can go completely unnoticed or be minimized once they do begin to appear. Knowing the physical signs of visual impairment can mean the difference between immediate treatment and partial or complete blindness later. Symptoms can display in one or more of the following ways:

  • Squinting: Excessive squinting of the eyes, often accompanied by tilting of the head or leaning in too closely, can indicate diminished vision. Individuals may squint when reading, writing or recognizing friends and family.
  • Change in movement: Those who cannot see clearly may move more slowly or become clumsy. Slowly walking up and down a flight of stairs, or stumbling over obvious obstacles, could mean someone is having trouble seeing.
  • Eye irritation: Persistent and discernible redness is an apparent sign that an eye is irritated. Individuals with eye discomfort or pain may also blink more than normal or rub their eyes frequently.

Some groups of people, such as young children, may not be able to adequately communicate changes to eyesight. Thus, it is important to observe behaviors and notice the early physical signs of vision loss or blindness.

Signs of Going Blind From Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that causes vascular complications, which can increase a person's risk of developing eye and vision problems if left untreated. An eye condition known as diabetic retinopathy occurs as a result of high glucose levels in the bloodstream damaging and weakening blood vessels in the eye. Fluid may accumulate in the eye and distort the shape of the retina, which alters an individual’s vision.

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy do not typically produce symptoms, so it can be more difficult to diagnose until the later stages. Typically, symptoms will present in both eyes. Signs of blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy may include:

  • Blurry or impaired vision
  • Sudden color blindness
  • Poor night vision
  • Sudden and acute loss of eyesight

The best way for an individual to prevent the onset of diabetic retinopathy is to seek treatment for diabetes and schedule annual eye exams with a doctor.

Signs of Going Blind From Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a category of eye disease that damages the optic nerve, which can cause vision loss and blindness over time. The most common form of glaucoma found in the United States is called open-angle glaucoma, though the medical profession recognizes many different types of the disease.

In a similar fashion to diabetic retinopathy, the early stages of glaucoma often go unnoticed. Many individuals with glaucoma do not know they have it until their vision begins to deteriorate. While the disease tends to affect only one eye, it can occur in both eyes. Glaucoma can impede one's health in the following ways:

  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headaches and nausea
  • Irritation or pain in the eye

An early diagnosis and regimented treatment of glaucoma can prevent substantial damage to the optic nerve and protect vision in the long term.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon999116 — On Oct 30, 2017

I was driving down the road and my eyes went black for 10 seconds. Sometimes I see black and white squares, and the specialist said that the muscles in the back of my eyes were letting go and that I was going blind. Is he right or wrong? I can't drive at night.

By anon334341 — On May 12, 2013

As the daughter of someone who got diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa relatively late (early 50s) and who is now in her late 70s and significantly vision impaired - the one thing I say is talk about it and how it affects everything, to as many family and friends as you can, not to bore them but to make them aware of the reality of it. Don't just talk about the actual condition, but how it affects your everyday life, and how all the practical things that become difficult, not just for the person going blind but for immediate family.

People often are glad to offer help, but with the best will in the world have absolutely no understanding of just how widespread something like this affects everyday life, and you don't want to sound like you are grumbling about what to them seems trivial but to you is huge, like needing to research just about everything you buy in more detail to make sure both vision impaired and others in the same household can use it. Everything from the new washing machine (oops, can't have that one, it has touch screen controls) to whether you buy 'cool' or 'warm' fluorescent light globes (the light spectrum affects people with RP significantly - one they can see with much better than the other). Blindness is a huge, huge, huge thief of time - the blind person's time and their immediate family's as well.

Me, I'd love to have someone else learn how to download and burn all my mother's audiobooks for her, even if they just did a few a month and I still did the rest.

By OceanSwimmer — On Aug 31, 2011

My oldest son has Retinitis Pigmentosa, also known as RP. His father has it and his paternal grandmother has it as well. We knew that our children would have a 50/50 chance of having RP.

RP is essentially night blindness. It also causes loss of peripheral vision and can eventually lead to complete blindness.

Our first son was diagnosed when he was 3 years old. We knew that he probably had it because he ran into things often and would cry when it was dark. He started going to Alabama School for the Blind when he was 4 and graduated from there a couple of years ago.

Our youngest son ended up not having any visual impairment at all. I was so glad of that but it made me feel bad for our oldest son because to him, it didn't seem fair that he has it and his brother doesn't.

As of right now, there are no cures for RP. There have been trials done to try to slow the disease down, however. One of the trials including taking a high amount of Vitamin A but that has not yet been proven effective. I hope for a cure one day and I pray that it comes before my son loses his sight altogether.

By Speechie — On Aug 30, 2011

@amysamp - I am not sure how prevalant diabetes is, but I have heard that numbers are growing here in the United States!

Unfortunately, glaucoma is correlated quite strongly with diabetes. The most recent study I read was that women with diabetes are seventy percent more likely to get glaucoma than women without diabetes.

I like you, had no idea there was a connection until recently when one of my family members who has had borderline diabetes for a while now was also diagnosed with glaucoma.

So I guess while it is not a sign of going blind, diabetes could be a warning flag of going blind with glaucoma.

By amysamp — On Aug 29, 2011

@wander - I am very sad to hear about your mom's vision but I am glad to hear she has adjusted more to her loss of vision (what an incredibly difficult thing to have to adjust to)!

I was surprised when you said that she suffered from glaucoma due to her diabetes. I had no idea there was a correlation between the two.

This makes me wonder, how much of a correlation is there between diabetes and glaucoma? I worry because diabetes, I have heard, is becoming commonplace in the United States.

By runner101 — On Aug 29, 2011

For my mother, hopefully I can say now that she is not going blind but for a while her going blind symptoms were nothing. That is because she found out she has glaucoma and there can be near to nothing symptoms.

But luckily my mom wears glasses so she has to have an eye exam every year and they caught it before any noticeable vision loss was found. Now she has eye drops that have prevented the glaucoma from worsening.

My dad actually has to help her put them in because she has such difficulty putting eye drops in due to her excessive blinking during the process.

Because she does blink so much and the eye doctor was worried about the drops actually making it into her eye; he suggested that she keep the drops in the fridge so she can feel the coolness and she knows when the drops go in her eye.

I thought this was a great tip for such an important medication!

By Mykol — On Aug 28, 2011

My aunt kept complaining about her vision and saying that she just couldn't see things like she used to. She said it felt like there was a film over her eyes, and not matter what she did it would not go away.

She didn't have any other symptoms such as flashing lights or double vision, but felt like she was going blind.

When she got checked out, she had cataracts in both eyes which was causing everything to be blurry. Once she had the cataracts removed, her vision was much more clear and sharp.

This was quite scary for her for awhile. The thought of going blind and losing her eyesight caused her a great deal of distress.

By julies — On Aug 28, 2011

A good friend of my mothers is slowly going blind and it is hard to watch this happen. She was diagnosed with macular degeneration and even though it has been a slow process, it is still very frustrating for her.

She has not been able to drive for quite awhile and doesn't like to totally rely on other people to take her where she wants to go. Even though she tries to maintain a positive attitude, there are days that she gets pretty down about it.

Her symptoms have been a slow, gradual process of losing the clarity and depth of her vision. Her other senses have become more sensitive, but she would love to be able to sit down and read a book. This was one of her favorite things to do, and now she has to listen to them on CD.

By popcorn — On Aug 27, 2011

Bad cataracts can also cause blindness if left untreated. Cataracts are actually treatable if you are willing to see a doctor and undergo the proper surgery.

My grandfather struggled with cataracts and he was suffering from very bad vision by the time he had his cataracts removed. The surgery is actually pretty amazing because they replace the lenses in your eyes. His vision was better than 20-20 after the surgery.

After my grandfather's surgery he told me he would have had it years ago if he knew how bad his eyesight was. I guess when your vision deteriorates over a long period of time it's hard to remember what seeing well was like.

By wander — On Aug 27, 2011

My mother suffered from glaucoma due to her diabetes for many years and eventually went legally blind. It was a terrible experience for her and the whole family. My mother was very upset over her inability to do what she wanted to do, and was very frightened while losing her vision. She eventually learned to cope with her new disability but it was a long hard road.

The best thing you can do if a loved one is going blind is to make sure they have a secure and safe home. Start to make plans for how you will set up your house and arrange therapy sessions for you and your family. Talking about what is going to happen and having a plan can make the whole process much smoother.

On this page
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.