Blindness and Visual Impairment: Causes


This section connects the user to information about the causes of blindness and visual impairment. The Introduction and Overview section links to more general information, while the Diseases and Disorders section has sites with more detail about specific conditions, including symptoms, causes, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and support groups. The Signs of Vision Disorders category advises the user about symptoms to be on the watch for.

Below is a list of topics you'll find in this section. Click on a title to jump to a specific topic.

Blindness and Visual Impairment: Introduction and Overview

A-Z of Visually Impairing Conditions
V.I. Scotland
Thorough and well researched information about causes of blindness and visual impairment, as well as many medical conditions that can affect vision.

National Institute of Health
This US Government institute's site provides definitions, illustrations, causes of blindness, and advice on when to contact a medical professional.

Causes of Blindness
Sightsavers International
In-depth illustrated descriptions of global causes of blindness and their treatments.

Causes of Blindness and Low Vision Sight Loss
National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Common eye conditions and causes of blindness in the United States; explained in non-clinical language accessible to the layperson.

Causes of Blindness and Visual Impairment
World Health Organization (WHO)
Statistics and distribution data on global blindness; includes links to more information on high incidence eye diseases.

Causes of Vision Loss In Children
California School for the Blind
Geared to children and young teens searching for information about their vision disorders; includes causes, treatments, and accommodations in clear, non-technical language.

Common Eye Conditions
Information on common eye conditions.

Diseases & Conditions
The Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
Facts on eye disease and treatment; free eye health educational materials.

Diseases and Disorders
National Eye Institute
This site has links to many free Full Text Pamphlets and booklets. Topics include age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.

Eye & Vision Problems
American Optometric Association (AOA)
Symptoms and risk factors of eye and vision conditions.

The Eye Care Page:  A Resource for People with Visual Impairments and Their Families
Sarah J. Blake
Information about eye conditions and care, eye wear, and living with a visual impairment.

Eye Conditions
Discovery Eye Foundation
Current information on diseases that affect elders: cataract, glaucoma, dry eyes, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Eye Conditions
FamilyConnect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
This site has short definitions of many vision disorders and a few words about treatment and assistive technology. Includes links to support groups for the specific disorder or condition.

Eye Conditions
Foundation Fighting Blindness
Information on causes of and treatments for retinitis pigmentosa (RP), macular degeneration, usher syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases.

Eye conditions
Links to simple guides on common eye conditions; listings of frequently searched sites.

Eye Conditions
Statistical data on adult vision loss in the US and the world, including information on primary causes, diagrams and pictures.

Eye Conditions
Vision Australia
Information on blindness and vision loss in Australia; links to fact sheets on twelve common causes of blindness and low vision.

Eye Diseases and Conditions
New York Institute for Special Education
A wealth of information about eye diseases and conditions, including links to many resources.

Fact Sheets
Vision Australia
Fact sheets on a wide range of issues relating to blindness and vision impairment; available in braille, audio formats, and large and standard print.

Leading Causes of Blindness
Olmsted Center for the Visually Impaired
Discussion of the four major causes of blindness: diabetic retinopathy, cataract, glaucoma and macular degeneration.  

Leading Causes of Blindness Worldwide
Department of Ophthalmology, Algemeen Ziekenhuis, Sint-Jozef, Turnhout, Belgium
The main causes of blindness and visual disabilities worldwide; many of which are preventable.

Most Common Low Vision Causing Conditions
The Low Vision Gateway
Descriptions of many eye diseases and conditions; links to related support groups.

Specific Diagnoses Card Catalog
Family Village
Comprehensive information about many disabilities, disorders, and diseases. Includes links to support groups and sources of more information.


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Blindness and Visual Impairment: Organizations and Resources to Explore

More Information About Eye Diseases
A jumping-off place for visiting websites with information about many eye conditions.

About the Eye and Eye Disorders
Schepens Eye Research Institute
Up-to-date, reliable information on the most common eye diseases and disorders; research on new treatments and diagnostic tools.

American Foundation for the Blind
AFB provides a wealth of information and services to people who are blind or visually impaired, and their families, and for the professionals who serve them.

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)
A nationwide agency with the mission "to enhance independence for people with vision loss and to be the leader in promoting vision health" in Canada; in English and French.

Vision Health
Lighthouse International
Information and resources for people living with blindness or visual impairments; includes sections on anatomy of the eye, eye disorders, prevention, and tips for confident living. The website contains a separate section for professionals.

National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research
This coalition of 55 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research works to achieve the best eye and vision care for all Americans through advocacy and public education.

National Federation of the Blind
This consumer group lists the causes of blindness in young adults and people over 65; includes links to sites with related medical information

Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB)
One of the leading service agencies in the United Kingdom, RNIB offers practical support, advice, and imaginative solutions to anyone with a vision disorder.

Vision Australia
Australia's leading provider of blindness and low vision services offers fact sheets, downloadable web accessibility tools, and useful links.

Vision Aware
A "Self-Help for Vision Loss" web site that provides free, practical, hands-on information to enhance quality of life and independence for adults with vision loss, their families and friends, caregivers, and related professionals.

See information about Statistics on Blindness and Visual Impairment for more information.

Diseases and Disorders That Cause Blindness and Visual Impairment

Below is a list of topics you'll find in this section. Click on a title to jump to a specific topic.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD or ARMD)

Age-Related Macular Degeneration
An overview, including signs and symptoms, an online video exploring adaptive technology, and additional resources.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Sacramento Network of Care
Causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of age-related macular degeneration, and suggestions for living with it.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration
National Eye Institute
This introduction to age-related macular degeneration includes an update on current research. Also available as a pdf.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Vision 2020
An exploration of the global prevalence of age-related macular degeneration.

Macular Degeneration
Bright Focus Foundation
Formerly the American Health Assistance Foundation, Bright Focus provides consumer-friendly information about visual impairments like macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD or ARMD): Organizations and Resources to Explore

AMD Alliance International
Information for people with age-related macular degeneration, their families, caregivers, and professionals.

AMD Learning Center
Prevent Blindness America
An introduction to age-related macular degeneration and suggestions on living with the disease.

Macular Degeneration Foundation (Australia)
A wide array of information and resources.

Macular Degeneration Foundation (USA)
The online newsletter on this site offers updates on research findings and practical tips for people with age-related macular degeneration.

Macular Degeneration Support
Free information and personal assistance for people dealing with macular degeneration and similar retinal diseases.

Portal to Macular Degeneration Organizations on the Internet
MD Support
An annotated list of organizations that specialize in macular degeneration.


CVI, Albinism, and Environmental Adaptations
Perkins eLearning, Perkins School for the Blind
Earn ACVREP credits through this tutorial unit, that explores environmental adaptations for low vision and visually processing conditions, including albinism and CVI.

Including Students with Albinism
Perkins eLearning (Webcast)
In this webcast Perkins and NOAH (National Organization for Albinism & Hypopigmentation) are pleased to present Susan Dalton, M.S.Ed., CVRT as she shares her insights on Including Students with Albinism in the Regular Education Classroom.

Raising a Child with Albinism
National Organization of Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH)
Links to information about albinism, including issues specific to children, students, and medical patients who have albinism.


Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
Prevent Blindness America
Definition of amblyopia, causes and treatment


Aniridia Network
Information about aniridia and living with the condition.

Batten's Disease

Battling Batten’s Disease
Advance for Nurses
Batten's is an inherited fatal neurodegenerative disease which includes loss of vision. Resources, support, and advice for accommodations.


National Eye Institute
Causes, risk factors, symptoms, treatment, and current research on cataracts.

Sacramento Network of Care
This article explores the pros and cons of surgery, includes suggestions for daily living.

Pediatric Glaucoma & Cataract Family Association
This site includes a searchable knowledgebase, an Ask the Doctor forum, videos, news, and article reviews.

CHARGE Syndrome

CHARGE Syndrome Foundation
Information about CHARGE Syndrome, including special resource packets for new parents and professionals, a one-page fact sheet, a list of frequently asked questions, a newsletter, information on medical management, and online resources.

Special issues of CHARGE: a webcast series
Perkins eLearning, Perkins School for the Blind
Perkins provides a series of webcasts that explore in-depth the special educational, developmental, and social issues for individuals with CHARGE Syndrome. This link takes you to a landing page of webcasts, and 2 tutorial offerings for continuing education credits.

Vision Issues for People with CHARGE Syndrome
Perkins Webcasts
Ocular defects, muscle tone, vestibular issues and other impacts of visual impairment can all affect individuals with CHARGE syndrome. Learn more about compensatory behaviors through this webcast.

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI)

Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment
Perkins eLearning (Webinar)
In two one-hour sessions, the staff of the New England Eye Low Vision Clinic at Perkins dive deeply into the causes and impacts of cortical/cerebral visual impairments, and discuss the importance of collaborative care for children with CVI.  Session 1Session 2.

Children with Cortical Visual Impairment
American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
Maryke Groenveld presents an introduction to CVI, including interpretation of visual information, assessment procedures, implications for intervention, and additional impairments.

Cortical Vision Impairment
Perkins eLearning Webcast
In this collection of webcasts, Ellen Mazel discusses assessment and diagnosis, and offers early intervention strategies for CVI.

Cortical Visual Impairment and the Evaluation of Functional Vision
Perkins eLearning Webcast
This webcast featuring Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy provides information about the specific characteristic behaviors of CVI and provides information regarding the evaluation of functional vision.

Cortical Visual Impairment: Some Words of Caution
American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
Dr. Mary Morse discusses the complexity of CVI, the differences among children with CVI, and the need for a variety of approaches.

CVI Environmental Adaptations from Perkins School for the Blind
American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
Practical suggestions for adapting schedule boards, light boxes, the bathroom, vocational activities, toys, walkers, and other materials.

Developing Visual Skills for Children who Face Cortical Visual Impairments
Simplified Technology, Linda J. Burkhart
How to help children with CVI develop neurological pathways to make sense of what they see. Includes design adaptations and strategies to enhance vision, cognition and communication.

Neurological Visual Impairment
California Deaf-Blind Services
This fact sheet offers an introduction to neurological and cortical visual impairment, including a list of suggested instructional strategies.

Understanding the Behaviours of Children With CVI
American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
Discusses basic brain structure and causes of CVI, behaviors, assessment and intervention strategies; includes a checklist of behavioral characteristics.

Strategies for Working with Children with Cortical Visual Impairment
Pennsylvania Training & Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)
24-page document has practical suggestions for early intervention, and strategies for pre-school, elementary, and high school; includes students with multiple disabilities.

A Team Approach to Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) in Schools, by Donna Shaman
American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
Occupational Therapist Donna Shaman has outlined an approach for educational teams to identify, evaluate, and educate children with cortical-cerebral visual impairments (CVI). The manual is printable from this link to APH.

Cortical Visual Impairment: Organizations and Resources to Explore

APH CVI Website
APH maintains a microsite specific to Cortical Visual Impairment, containing a wealth of resources, research, presentations, and strategies.

Cortical Visual Impairment
National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB)
Includes articles, bibliographies and Internet resources.

CVI – Damage to the Brain – A Common Cause of Visual Impairment to Children
Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)
An overview of the visual system and how it works; how brain damage can cause disorders of vision; approaches to help students with CVI.

CVI Website
American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
Information on all aspects of cortical visual impairment (CVI), including introductory materials, sample goals and reports, environmental supports, intervention strategies, CVI products, research, and resources.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy and links to additional resources

Diabetic Retinopathy
Sacramento Network of Care
Information about treatment of diabetic retinopathy, tips for living with the condition.

Diabetes and Vision Problems: Performing Daily Diabetes Tasks When You Can't See Well
Suggestions on self-care for those who have diabetes and low vision.


International Glaucoma Association
A comprehensive source of up-to-date news and information about glaucoma.

Vision Aware
Basic information and links to additional resources about glaucoma.

Sacramento Network of Care
An overview of glaucoma and suggestions for living well with it.

Bright Focus Foundation
Formerly the American Health Assistance Foundation, Bright Focus provides consumer-friendly information about visual impairments like macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Glaucoma: Organizations and Resources to Explore

Pediatric Glaucoma & Cataract Family Association
This site includes a searchable knowledgebase, an Ask the Doctor forum, videos, news, and article reviews.

About Glaucoma, Glaucoma Foundation
Diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma; links to an online newsletter.

Glaucoma Research Foundation
Information on glaucoma's impact on vision, living with the disease, treatment, and research.

Leber's Congenital Amaurosis (LCA)

Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) is a rare, hereditary disorder that leads to retinal dysfunction and visual impairment at an early age – often from birth. Of all the retinal degenerations, LCA has the earliest age of onset and can be the most severe. The Foundation for Retinal Research and The Foundation Fighting Blindness both provide information and resources regarding LCA, which are linked here.

Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON)

Families affected by this condition often refer to it as "the other Lebers" -- Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a sudden, painless loss of central vision. About 100 people in the United States lose central vision due to LHON each year; thousands more carry a LHON genetic mutation, and they could suddenly lose their vision at any time.
Learn more about LHON causes, diagnosis and treatment through this informative website, and meet LHON families working together to provide support, services, and awareness.


American Nystagmus Network (ANN)
Basic description of nystagmus, FAQs, information for parents of school-age children with the condition.

Optic Nerve Atrophy

Optic Nerve Atrophy
U.S.National Library of Health- Pubmed Health
Information on Optic Nerve Atrophy disorder, symptoms, behaviors, research and links to related sites.

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Welcome to ROPARD,The Association for Retinopathy of Prematurity and Related Diseases (ROPARD)
Retinopathy of prematurity—its history, a bibliography, and lists of resources.

Signs of Vision Disorders

Does Your Child Have a Vision Problem That Might Be Interfering With School Performance?
Optometrists Network
A questionnaire for determining whether a vision evaluation is needed; includes links to related topics such as pediatric care, vision therapy, vision checklists and learning disabilities.

Signs That Your Child May Have a Vision Problem
Save Our Sight
A list of warning signs for parents.

Signs Your Child has Poor Vision
Symptoms of poor vision: changes in appearance of the eye and some behavioral indications.

Visual Impairment Warning Signs and Risks
Center for the Partially Sighted
Warning signs and risk factors for vision loss in adults and children.

Warning Signs
The Vision Council
Identifying vision disorders in adults and children.

Observable Signs of Vision Problems
This site lists observable signs of vision loss and disorders.

Signs of Eye Problems in Adults
Prevent Blindness America
Symptoms of eye and vision conditions; information about potentially serious ones.

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