Top 5 Causes of Blindness in Aging Adults

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Vision loss is common in aging adults, but because it progresses slowly, seniors may not notice the extent of the damage until it’s too late to treat. Seniors and their caregivers should be on the lookout for signs of blindness and other types of vision impairment, which often manifest as behavioral changes. These problems can be signs of age-related eye diseases and conditions. When untreated, they can lead to blindness.

1.Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Nonexudative)

The leading cause of vision loss in seniors, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) primarily impacts one part of the retina—the macula. The macula is crucial to central vision, and degeneration can take a large toll on a senior’s vision health.  There are two main types of AMD: nonexudative and exudative. Nonexudative AMD, or “dry” AMD, is more common and less damaging. Nonexudative AMD is responsible for about 10 to 20 percent of AMD-related severe vision loss. Nonexudative AMD is usually caused by drusen (yellowish deposits of extracellular material) or geographic atrophy, which manifests as atrophied patches on the retina. 2

2.Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Exudative)

Exudative AMD is more likely to cause severe vision loss. This type of degeneration is caused by abnormal vessel growth near the subretinal space. Due to their abnormalities, these vessels leak unwanted substances in the macula, which can greatly impact vision health. When seniors start to develop AMD, they may experience side effects such as image distortion, reading difficulties, and blurred vision.

3.Diabetic Retinopathy

Seniors with diabetes are also at risk for diabetic retinopathy. There are two types of retinopathy: proliferative and nonproliferative. Proliferative retinopathy is caused by a proliferation of blood vessels in the optic area, which can lead to vitreous hemorrhage or retinal detachment. Nonproliferative retinopathy is caused by retinal circulation abnormalities, which can lead to macular edema.  Seniors with diabetic retinopathy may experience diminished night vision, blurred vision, and “floaters.” This condition can be treated via blood glucose control or surgical options such as panretinal laser photocoagulation and macular laser therapy. Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Des Moines, IA, seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.


While many aging adults across the world are affected by cataracts, vision experts haven’t devised a universally accepted definition. When doctors refer to cataract conditions, they’re usually referring to any lens opacity that negatively impacts vision. Cataracts usually progress over a period of years, and seniors affected by them often experience glare and blurred vision. Cataract surgery is a safe and effective treatment option.  Seniors who undergo cataract surgery may need help accomplishing everyday tasks while they recover. The type of homecare Des Moines, IA, seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Home Care Assistance, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time.


Glaucoma, which is caused by damage to the glaucomatous optic nerve, is another common cause of blindness among seniors. Risk factors for glaucoma include myopia, diabetes, hypertension, and a family history of the condition. Seniors with this condition often experience blurred vision and visual field loss. While glaucoma is a chronic progressive disorder, there are many treatments that can lower intraocular pressure, mitigate side effects, and slow the progression of the disease. Blindness can make it challenging for seniors to live at home on their own. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to assisted living facilities. If your senior loved one needs assistance to remain safe and comfortable while living at home, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading at-home care agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (515) 264-2438.


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