The 2 most common causes of permanent blindness and how to prevent them

22nd May 2023 By Phoenix Hospital Group

People often associate tripping over, difficulty with stairs and finding it hard to find things they have dropped, with old age. However, this could be a sign of glaucoma or age related macular degeneration (AMD), both are lead causes of blindness.

In the UK, around 480,000 people have glaucoma and 600,000 people have AMD. If these conditions remain undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to irreversible blindness. The best way to prevent blindness is to have your eyes checked by an expert ophthalmologist as they will be able to examine your eyes for abnormalities and assess your sight. In this article, Professor Viswanathan discusses the common eye diseases that can lead to permanent blindness, and highlights how regular eye health check-ups are the best way to prevent these.

If you have been suffering from eye problems and wish to book an eye health check, you can do so at Phoenix Hospital Group under the care of Consultant Ophthalmologist Professor Ananth Viswanathan.


Why are eye health checks important?

It is important to get regular eye health check in order to prevent the development or progression of eye diseases which can lead to permanent blindness. Often, symptoms remain unnoticed therefore they are not detected until the damage becomes irreversible. Getting your eye health checked by an ophthalmologist can find early signs of these conditions so they can be treated before it’s too late.


What conditions can eye health checks detect?

It is important to have regular eye examinations to check your eye health as these can detect conditions such as:

  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • AMD(age-related macular degeneration)


When to see an ophthalmologist

When should you get an eye health check and how often?

It is advised to have an eye health check every two years, but if any eye problems occur it is best to attend earlier. Furthermore, it is recommended to get your eye health regularly checked if you are over the age of 45.

Some common risk factors which can increase the damage to your eyes include:

  • Aging
  • UV Sunlight
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Too much screen time
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes

You should see an ophthalmologist if you are experiencing a sudden change in vision or sudden blurriness as this could indicate possible eye conditions such as glaucoma or AMD. You should also book an eye health check if you have a family history of glaucoma or AMD


Causes of permanent blindness

Age- related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is a degenerative disease which causes a blur in your central vision. This occurs when aging causes damage to the macula which is located at the back of the eye at the centre of the retina. The macula allows clear central vision.

Dry AMD has a slow and gradual progression. Deposits accumulate in the area causes atrophy resulting in slow vision loss. Wet AMD is characterised by the growth of new blood vessels with thin walls. This results in leakage of fluid and blood into the macula causing rapid vision loss.


Glaucoma is a common eye condition where the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged. It is prevalent in 2% of individuals over 40 years and 50% for those above 80 years. It is the “silent thief of sight” and those in early stages of glaucoma do not suffer any symptoms do often it goes unnoticed until it is too late.

How to prevent AMD and glaucoma

Maintaining a healthy diet and integrating healthy behaviours such as being physically active, lowering cholesterol and avoiding smoking will help lower your risk of AMD and Glaucoma. It will also help prevent these diseases from progressing to the permanent form. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of AMD or glaucoma, or if you have a family history of AMD or glaucoma, it is important to have an eye health check so that your symptoms can be treated early.


Book an eye health check today

If you are worried about your risk to irreversible blindness, or if you have a family history of glaucoma or AMD, book an eye health check now to prevent conditions that can result to irreversible blindness.

Find out more about our specialist Private Ophthalmology Service for the diagnosis and treatment of all eye conditions at Phoenix Hospital Group and Professor Ananth Viswanathan who works at the London Eye Diagnostic Centre at 25 Harley Street.