According to the World Health Organization, around 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired, with 39 million characterized as completely blind and 246 million experiencing various degrees of low vision due to a number of impairments. Recently, the team at Clinic Compare, a UK-based group that gives advice and guidance on aesthetic and reconstructive surgery, created four GIFs that demonstrate what vision is like for someone suffering from certain eye conditions. Though fun and fascinating, the GIFs also give us an important glimpse of what life is like for those with visual impairments.
The most common cause for visual impairments are uncorrected refractive errors, such as those that cause nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Coming in second place and accounting for 33 percent of all global vision problems are cataracts.
As defined by the National Eye Institute (NEI), a cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Although most are related to aging, some congenital conditions may cause the impairment to develop in much younger individuals. Luckily, this impairment can be corrected with surgery.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is another common eye condition that most commonly affects older patients. According to the NEI, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss among people aged 50 and older. The condition is caused by damage to the macula, an area of the eye that is necessary for central vision. As a result, those with AMD see the world similar to that depicted in the GIF.
Rather than one specific condition, glaucoma is an umbrella term used to describe a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve which connects the retina to the brain. Although the true cause of glaucoma is not clear, according to NEI, studies have shown that eye pressure is a major risk factor for optic nerve pain (although not every person with increased eye pressure will go on to develop glaucoma.)
According to the American Optometric Association, diabetic retinopathy is a vision condition that occurs in people with diabetes. Diabetics have difficulty using and storing sugar, and as a result, sometimes this excess sugar can travel throughout the body and cause blood vessels in the retina to bleed, damaging the eye and distorting vision. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they are to develop retinopathy, and if left untreated, the condition can lead to complete blindness.