Can Blindness Be Cured? What to Know

Medically Reviewed By Vicente Diaz, MD, MBA

Whether blindness can be cured depends on its cause. Some conditions cause vision loss that can be improved, such as cataracts. However, many cases of blindness are permanent. Still, treatment can help protect your remaining vision. Blindness is a severe degree of vision loss, and not everyone with permanent or temporary vision loss is legally considered blind.

Some causes of vision loss and blindness can be improved or slowed. Some people can even recover some vision. However, in some cases, there is no cure for blindness or vision loss.

Research continues to explore new and innovative ways to enhance vision and prevent irreversible blindness. 

This article discusses the kinds of blindness that may be cured, research and treatments, and methods for supporting vision.

Can blindness be cured?

Someone stands in dark shade with direct sunlight lighting up half of their face.
Ana Luz Crespi/Stocksy United

There is no general cure for blindness. Some conditions cause vision loss that can be reversed with treatment, while others may lead to irreversible Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source vision loss.

Whether blindness can be cured depends on several factors, such as:

  • the cause of blindness
  • the stage, subtype, or severity of your eye condition
  • access to treatment
  • treatment effectiveness and how your body responds

For example, different cases of the same cause of vision problems may vary in whether they are treatable or reversible. An eye injury can cause Trusted Source JAMA Peer reviewed journal Go to source temporary or permanent vision loss, depending on its type and severity.

Learn more about the types and causes of vision loss.

Cataracts

Cataracts are when the lens of the eye clouds over, impairing vision. They are the most common Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Governmental authority Go to source cause of vision loss in the United States.

Treatment for cataracts can include surgery to remove and replace the cloudy lens with an artificial one. This can cure or improve Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source vision loss for many people.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), around 90% Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source of people see better after surgery. However, some people still need glasses or contacts. 

Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common cause Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source of vision loss for older adults.

Medication with anti-VEGF injections can sometimes help reverse Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source some vision loss caused by the wet type of AMD. However, vision loss caused by the dry type of AMD is permanent Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source .

Read more about wet vs. dry AMD.

If your vision loss is irreversible, treatment can still help slow or stop vision loss from AMD and help you make the most of your remaining vision.

Researchers are also progressing in a crucial step for a possible new AMD treatment. This treatment produces a tissue called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which may help repair or renew Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source damaged cells in the eye.

Learn more about macular degeneration treatment and outlook.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition characterized by damage to the eye’s optic nerve. Experts are not sure what causes glaucoma, but it is related to high pressure in the eye.

There is currently no cure Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source for glaucoma or any vision loss it causes. Still, treatments such as medications, laser therapies, and surgery may help slow Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source the condition’s progression and protect your remaining vision.

An extensive 2024 analysis Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source recently identified several gene variants that may play a role in glaucoma formation in people of African ancestry. Glaucoma is the leading Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source cause of blindness in African American people, and this discovery may help improve the treatment approaches to glaucoma.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes in which high blood sugar levels cause inflammation in the eye.

In some cases, anti-VEGF medications can reverse Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source some damage caused by diabetic retinopathy and may improve vision. Though vision loss cannot be reversed for everyone, anti-VEGF medications may help slow diabetic retinopathy progression and reduce further vision loss.

Read more about diabetic retinopathy reversal, treatment, and outlook.

Other causes of vision loss

Many conditions can cause Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source transient or temporary vision loss, such as:

Effectively treating the cause of transient vision loss may help vision problems improve or go away in some cases.

Protecting vision and eye health

Not all conditions that cause vision loss or blindness can be prevented.

However, steps you can take to protect Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source your eye health and vision include: 

  • Getting regular eye exams: Many serious eye conditions don’t cause noticeable symptoms until the damage is permanent. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is often the only way to detect an eye condition in its early stages. 
  • Eating a balanced diet: Some foods are excellent for eye health, including dark leafy greens like spinach and kale and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and halibut. Try to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Getting regular physical activity: Being active helps improve overall health and reduces the risk of health conditions that may affect your eyes, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure
  • Avoiding smoking: Smoking can damage the eye’s optic nerve. It also increases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Protecting the eyes: Wearing sunglasses that block 99% to 100% Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source of UVA and UVB radiation helps protect the eyes from damage. Also, always wear protective eyewear when doing certain sports or construction or using machinery. 
  • Resting the eyes: People who look at digital screens for long periods can help their eyes by taking a break. Every 20 minutes Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source , try to look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 
  • Taking care of contact lenses: If you use contact lenses, always wash your hands before putting in or removing your contact lenses. Also, make sure to disinfect your contact lenses and replace them as instructed by your eye doctor or the lens label instructions.
  • Practicing proper hygiene: Avoid rubbing and touching the eyes with unclean hands.

Support and resources

If you have vision loss or blindness, the following resources may offer helpful support:

Your medical team or local health center may also be able to recommend local support.

Learn more about blindness, including diagnosis, outlook, and support.

Summary

Whether blindness can be cured depends on the cause of vision loss. Sometimes, effective treatment for some conditions, such as cataracts and diabetic retinopathy, can help reverse or improve vision loss. Other causes of vision loss can be permanent.

However, the outlook of vision loss and recovery can still depend on many other factors, such as the stage and severity of your condition and how your body reacts to treatment.

Talk with a doctor if you have questions about vision loss or your outlook.

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Medical Reviewer: Vicente Diaz, MD, MBA
Last Review Date: 2024 Apr 2
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