Causes

Most visual impairment is caused by disease and malnutrition. According to WHO estimates in 2002, the most common causes of blindness around the world are:
* cataracts (47.8%),
* glaucoma (12.3%),
* age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (8.7%),
* trachoma (3.6%),
* corneal opacity (5.1%), and
* diabetic retinopathy (4.8%), among other causes.

People in developing countries are significantly more likely to experience visual impairment as a consequence of treatable or preventable conditions than are their counterparts in the developed world. While vision impairment is most common in people over age 60 across all regions, children in poorer communities are more likely to be affected by blinding diseases than are their more affluent peers.

The link between poverty and treatable visual impairment is most obvious when conducting regional comparisons of cause. Most adult visual impairment in North America and Western Europe is related to age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. While both of these conditions are subject to treatment, neither can be cured.

In developing countries, wherein people have shorter life expectancies, cataracts and water-borne parasites—both of which can be treated effectively—are most often the culprits. Of the estimated 40 million blind people located around the world, 70–80% can have some or all of their sight restored through treatment.

Abnormalities and Injuries:

Eye injuries, most often occurring in people under 30, are the leading cause of monocular blindness (vision loss in one eye) throughout the United States. Both of these conditions, injuries and cataracts, affect the eye itself. Abnormalities such as optic nerve hypoplasia affect the nerve bundle that sends signals from the eye to the back of the brain, which can lead to decreased visual acuity.

People with injuries to the occipital lobe of the brain can, despite having perfectly normal eyes and optic nerves, still be legally or totally blind.

Genetic Defects:
People with albinism often suffer from visual impairment to the extent that many are legally blind, though few of them actually cannot see.

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