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.