Main causes of Visual Impairment (Low Vision)

Your eyes should give you a lifetime’s service, but sometimes they can be affected by conditions that develop as you grow older when you can become more likely to get certain eye problems.

These conditions can either be treated or sometimes even prevented and this is why it's so important to have regular check-ups with your optometrist (optician).

Some of the most common causes of visual impairment include:

Difficulty reading

Eye muscles start to weaken from around age 45, which is a natural ageing process of the eye and you may need separate reading glasses or an addition to your prescription lenses (bifocals or varifocals).


This is a gradual clouding of the eye's lens and is extremely common in those over age 60.  It can be detected in an eye test and a simple operation can usually improve your sight.


This is related to an increase in pressure in the eye that leads to damage of the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain.

If untreated, glaucoma leads to tunnel vision and ultimately blindness. However, if it's detected early enough through an eye test with your optometrist (optician), these complications can usually be avoided with eye drops.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

This is a disease of the retina caused by ageing and there are two types of macular degeneration.

Dry macular degeneration usually gets worse very slowly.

Wet macular degeneration can get worse very quickly and would need to be seen as an emergency in a hospital eye unit for prompt treatment. Treatment is available for certain types of wet AMD.

Diabetic Retinopathy

If you have diabetes, your eyes are at risk from diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can lead to sight loss if it's not treated.

Eye screening is a key part of your diabetes care and it’s important to have regular checks. This is done separately to the normal sight test.

This eye screening involves a separate check to examine the back of the eyes and is a way of detecting the condition early so it can be treated more effectively. Please contact your GP for more information.

See NHS Choices for more information, including 2 videos that explain what happens when you go for diabetic eye screening.

1/ Diabetic eye screening - Ellie's eyes.

2/ Diabetic retinopathy screening.

Further information

For more information on these and other "eye conditions”, please click on the web link below to take you to the web site page:

The College of Optometrists - Eye Conditions


Relevant Topics


Visual Impairment (Low Vision)

Visual Impairment (Low Vision) - Introduction

What is Visual Impairment (Low Vision)?

Main Causes of Visual Impairment (Low Vision)

Visual Impairment (Low Vision) - Treatment & Support

Visual Impairment (Low Vision) - Services

Visual Impairment (Low Vision) - Local Optometry Schemes

Visual Impairment - Keeping your eyes healthy (Top 10 Tips)

Shropshire Services & Self-Help Support Groups - Visual Impairment (Low Vision)

National Services - Visual Impairment (Low Vision)


Self Care and Support

Self Care and Support - Introduction