Vision Loss | Causes & Risk Factors


What causes vision loss?

Vision changes, such as trouble focusing on close objects, are a normal part of aging. The main causes of vision loss in people older than 40 years of age are:

  • Macular degeneration (say: “mak-yoo-ler dee-jen-ur-ay-shun). This is caused by changes in the macula. The macula is the part of the eye that gives you clear, sharp vision.
  • Glaucoma (say: “glaw-koh-mah”). This is usually caused by high pressure from the fluid inside the eye.
  • Cataracts (say: “cat-uh-racts”). This is caused by a clouding of the lens inside the eye.
  • Diabetic retinopathy (say: “die-uh-bet-ick ret-in-ahh-path-ee”). This affects people who have diabetes. It occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the eyes.

Other common causes of vision loss include injury, infections and vision changes associated with certain illnesses.


The Visually Impaired Patient by Eric A. Rosenberg, MD, and Laura C. Sperazza, OD (American Family Physician May 15, 2008,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 05/14
Created: 09/09