Skip to content

Causes of Vision Loss

Cataract or uncorrected refractive errors account for most vision loss.

90% of vision loss is preventable or treatable.

Filters:

Numbers affected by vision loss, Global, 2020

(all ages, males & females)

Source: Data from VLEG/GBD 2020 model, accessed via the IAPB Vision Atlas
Loading...

Refractive Error

Uncorrected refractive error is the largest cause of vision loss

  • 161 million people live with distance vision impairment or blindness
  • 510 million people live with near vision impairment.

For these people, sight can be restored with appropriate spectacles, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.

Find out more

Cataract

Cataract is the largest cause of blindness

100 million people people have vision loss from cataract. Of these:

  • 17 million people are blind
  • 83 million people experience vision impairment.

For these people, sight can be restored with cataract surgery.

Rates of vision impairment and blindness due to cataract are higher in women (1.7%) than men (1.4%).

Find out more

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration is the third largest cause of vision loss

Over 8 million people have vision loss due to AMD. Of these:

  • 1.9 million are blind
  • 6.2 million experience moderate to severe vision impairment.

For every person that experiences vision impairment and blindness from AMD, there are many more living with early stage AMD who need comprehensive and integrated people centred eye care services to prevent vision loss.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the fourth largest cause of vision loss

Almost 8 million people have vision loss due to glaucoma. Of these:

  • 3.6 million are blind
  • 4.2 million experience moderate to severe vision impairment.

For every person that experiences vision impairment and blindness from glaucoma, there are many more living with early stage glaucoma who need comprehensive and integrated people centred eye care services to prevent vision loss.

Find out more

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a growing cause of vision loss

Over 4 million people have vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy. Of these:

  • 1 million are blind
  • 3.3 million experience moderate to severe vision impairment.

For every person that experiences vision impairment and blindness from diabetic retinopathy, there are many more living with early stage diabetic retinopathy who need comprehensive and integrated people centred eye care services to prevent vision loss.

Find out more

Other causes of vision loss

56 million people have vision loss due to other causes

These include conditions such as:

  • neglected tropical diseases such as trachoma and onchocerciasis
  • myopia macular degeneration and other retinopathies
  • corneal opacities.
Find out more

Mild vision impairment

There are 258 million people with mild vision impairment, for which cause data is not available.

Also, there is limited information on the causes of vision impairment and blindness for people under 50 years of age. More standardisation and certainty of the causes of vision impairment and blindness would be beneficial in future research.

 

Photo Credits

Available causes data tile: Mark Anthony Agtay, ‘Other’ tile: Harry Wood, YWAM, ‘Unknown’ tile: Solomon Gadisa, Light for the World