What causes visual impairment?

The biggest cause of all forms of vision impairment (43 percent) is “uncorrected refractive errors,” i.e., poor vision that could have been treated with eyeglasses or contacts.

Others are largely age-related, including cataracts (33 percent), glaucoma (2 percent) and AMD (1 percent). When blindness alone is taken into consideration, the top three causes are cataracts (51 percent), glaucoma (8 percent), and AMD (5 percent).1

Two additional diseases that may have nutritional components are retinitis pigmentosa and dry eye syndrome. Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disease in which there is a gradual loss of vision, most often in peripheral vision. Approximately 100,000 people in the United States have retinitis pigmentosa and 1.5 million worldwide.2,3 

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a condition where there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. It is a chronic condition that most typically effects older adults. The prevalence of dry eye syndrome in people over the age of 50 is estimated to be between 5 and 30 percent.4

Learn more about what you can do to help maintain healthy vision for a lifetime by visiting our Healthy Eyes Guide ».


Global Data on Vision Impairment 2010, World Health Organization
The Vision Institute
Research to Prevent Blindness
American Academy of Ophthalmology