When blindness is the strongest visual impairment. It occurs as a result of various diseases in the course of life or has existed since birth. If the eyes are considered to be the most important human sensory organ, the loss of vision is often characterized by further psychological complaints.
What is blindness?
Blindness is understood as the absolute loss of vision. It is no longer possible for those affected to orientate themselves using the eyes. In the meantime, there are numerous aids that are supposed to make life easier for blind people (these include, for example, specially trained guide dogs or writing that can be grasped with the sense of touch), but blindness is considered to be a cut in the quality of life.
In most diseases, blindness develops slowly and not from one day to the next. Often, diseases of the retina are responsible for the process. But injuries can also severely limit or eliminate vision.
People who can no longer perceive light are recognized as absolutely blind. This condition is known as amaurosis. Furthermore, there is blindness if the vision of the better eye is a maximum of two percent.
Blindness can be congenital, for example due to inherited retinal diseases, prenatal malformations or due to the atrophy of the optic nerves. In Germany, however, the majority of the blind will become ill in the course of their lives.
The ability to increase low vision is given in certain circumstances and depends on the underlying cause. Complaints should therefore be clarified quickly by a doctor.
The causes of blindness lie in different diseases. These include, for example, the cataract. In a healthy eye, the lens is responsible for ensuring that the image seen adopts sharp outlines, which are then passed on to the brain. Cataracts, on the other hand, cloud the lens, which means that it cannot function properly.
Instead, as the disease progresses, a veil becomes visible behind the pupil. Cataracts occur particularly from the age of 65. Every year around 400,000 to 600,000 people are treated surgically in Germany. Without treatment, cataracts are one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide.
The second most common cause is glaucoma, also known as glaucoma. The term covers several eye diseases that have a damaging effect on the optic nerve. The optic nerve represents the connection between the eyes and the brain. The image of the environment that is seen is created by incident light. This in turn triggers certain stimuli on the retina, which are transmitted to the brain in the further visual process. Only when the information has reached the brain can it evaluate the stimuli and the image is created.
However, if the optic nerve is injured, the transmission can no longer take place. Instead, progressive injury leads to blindness. In 2012 there were a total of 670,000 people in Germany who had glaucoma.
Another potential cause is diabetes. The metabolic disease can damage the retina due to broken blood vessels. Various light-sensing cells are located in the retina, which enable an image in the dark as well as in daylight. Damage to the retina means that those affected can no longer perceive the incident light. Because this plays an important role in the visual process, the retina is an important element of the sense organ.
Blindness is an evolutionary disadvantage. It has the potential to restrict the life habits of the person affected, whereby the condition does not benefit. However, those affected can learn to sharpen their other senses to compensate. In particular, people who are blind from birth usually have better hearing, for example.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
Further symptoms can result from blindness. On the one hand, the risk of accidents increases, for example when crossing a traffic light or performing certain everyday tasks. Often, however, the psychological consequences are perceived as more significant, which manifest themselves in particular in people who lose their sight in the course of their lives due to illnesses.
The sensory perception through the eyes can no longer take place at all or only to a very limited extent. It is therefore no longer possible for the person affected to see. This also applies with the help of any visual aids. Complete blindness (amaurosis) is only spoken of when no optical senses can be processed at all.
However, poor eyesight is also considered a symptom of blindness. This is based on a visual acuity of 1/50 or worse on the better eye. Medically, a symptom of blindness can also mean the severely restricted or non-existent ability to see in only one eye.
Blindness as such can lead to secondary symptoms, which result, among other things, from the increased risk of injury and a certain psychological stress that blind people experience. The necessity of everyday help can lead to corresponding dependencies and behavioral changes. The loss of vision can also lead to severe psychological suffering.
There are often signs of blindness if a progressive or chronic disease is the cause. In most cases, the view is initially cloudy or the field of vision is gradually restricted. How blindness is announced depends on the cause. An accident-related blindness or one that can be traced back to irreparable damage to the structures of the eye, the optic nerves or the brain, on the other hand, can also occur acutely.
Mental difficulties with blindness can usually be divided into different phases. While those affected stagnate in their life at the beginning and often reject a change in habits, the attitude of slander is abandoned in the phase of confrontation. Instead, there are a number of psychological complaints such as frustration, anger, the search for culprits, confrontations with third parties and an increased potential for aggression. This is followed by the episode of depression in which blindness is first consciously perceived and accepted in the final phase.
However, blindness can also lead to permanent depression. Although there are now numerous aids and care options, it is not uncommon for blind people to feel overwhelmed and socially excluded in everyday life. In the first few months in particular, they need increased attention, which in turn can lead to a feeling of dependency.
Some of those affected perceive themselves to be a burden for relatives and carers. In addition, the loss of independence can lead to further psychological complaints. Because orientation is initially via the eyes, the other sensory organs must be trained in the event of blindness in order to compensate for the loss. In this way, there is the possibility that those affected will show an improvement in orientation and in coping with everyday tasks after a while. Nevertheless, blindness represents a reduction in quality of life and long-term dependence on others.
Blindness itself does not lead to any medical complications that could further change a patient’s state of health. However, the patient’s everyday life is extremely limited by the blindness. It is no longer possible for the person concerned to move around alone and without assistance.
This can lead to severe psychological problems and depression, especially in young people. In the worst case scenario, thoughts of suicide and ultimately suicide occur. Social life is also severely restricted by blindness. The person affected also suffers from an increased risk of accidents.
Treatment is not possible and is not carried out in the case of blindness. Therefore, there are no further complications. However, it is possible for the patient to use some movement aids. These include the white cane or trained dogs that accompany the blind in everyday life.
As a rule, life expectancy is not reduced by going blind. However, the patient cannot recognize all diseases or injuries himself, so that certain symptoms are only recognized and treated late. This can lead to different complications, depending on the symptom.
When should you go to the doctor?
Complete blindness usually cannot be remedied if it has existed since birth. However, if significant visual disturbances become apparent over time, an appropriate doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. Visual disturbances can arise for a wide variety of reasons, so that the greatest caution is required at this point. The most common cause of subsequent blindness is the spread of an infection or inflammation.
An infection in the eye can under certain circumstances attack the connective tissue or the cornea, so that eyesight can be lost. For this reason, it is very important that the visit to the doctor is not delayed. The first signs of infection are red eyes and pus, which get worse over time.
Anti-inflammatory agents can be very effective and helpful, but they should only be prescribed by an appropriate doctor. So: if you want to avoid going blind, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible. Any consequential damage can be identified and treated at an early stage through medical and drug treatment.
Outlook & forecast
It is very difficult to make an exact outlook and prognosis in the event of sudden blindness, since in many cases the course of blindness depends on the cause. In rare cases, blindness is short-lived and then disappears completely. Most of the time, however, the blindness that occurs is permanent and therefore incurable.
Damage to the retina or optic nerve is often responsible for blindness. If the retina or the optic nerve is severely damaged, permanent blindness can be expected. The prospect and prognosis of a full recovery are therefore very poor. The situation is different, however, if existing blindness has been caused by excessively bright light. In such cases, affected people often only have a white haze on their retina for a short time. The chances are very good even without medical or drug treatment.
In many cases, however, complete blindness is no longer curable. Even if a medical examination and treatment takes place, a return of the eyesight is often not to be expected. For this reason, an appropriate doctor should be consulted as soon as the first problems with the retina arise. Early treatment can prevent serious complications.
You can do that yourself
The diagnosis can throw the affected person mentally and physically off track. Often it will be necessary to get psychological support – professionally or in self-help groups; because the relatives are mostly helpless and overwhelmed.
The diagnosis affects all areas of life. What about career and family planning, how about financial security? Can retraining be done? The BMAS’s “Guide for People with Disabilities” is available for the institutional framework.
The person concerned learns to structure his home and work area and to furnish it with a high contrast. Family members and work colleagues should also adhere to the structure, because the person concerned creates a “mind map” for all possible processes: What he does not remember or cannot find does not exist. The search for these little things costs unnecessarily a lot of time and nerves and reminds the person affected of the disease process every time. For this reason, there should be no objects lying around in the way that the person concerned could trip over and injure themselves.
Depending on the functional failure, a large number of optical aids and aids for everyday use are available, which are presented every year at the “SightCity” trade fair, which takes place in Frankfurt / Main at the beginning of May. There are also opportunities to test the optical aids on regional days of action organized by the associations for the blind and visually impaired.
Increased fat levels in the blood
In medicine, elevated blood lipid levels refer to an increase in the body’s own blood lipids, cholesterol and triglyceride. Values that are permanently too high can lead to vascular calcification and, in the long term, lead to a heart attack or stroke. The causes lie in congenital predispositions as well as in the individual lifestyle.
What are elevated blood lipid levels?
The substances cholesterol and triglyceride are basically present in the human body because they are involved in vital functions.
However, if the normal values of these so-called blood lipids are exceeded, there is a risk of serious and possibly even life-threatening diseases. These result from deposits in the vessels, which are caused by the excessive concentration of blood lipids.
The values increase, among other things, due to an unbalanced diet and lifestyle. Elevated blood lipids themselves usually do not cause any symptoms and are not infrequently only noticed when a secondary disease has already occurred. Regular blood tests can provide information on whether there is an increase in blood lipid levels and whether treatment is required.
The causes of increased blood lipid levels are partly due to a congenital predisposition. For example, some patients have a metabolic disorder in which the cholesterol cannot be broken down in the liver as usual.
In the majority of cases, however, the increased blood lipid levels are due to the individual lifestyle of the person concerned. Obesity, diabetes, and regular alcohol consumption can all drive up levels.
The consumption of animal fat, for example in the form of fatty meat or eggs, can contribute to a permanent increase in blood lipid levels and, as a result, medical treatment becomes necessary.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
Increased blood lipid levels usually do not cause any clear symptoms or complaints at the beginning. Only when they persist for a longer period of time will there be clear signs and then serious complications as well. If elevated blood lipid levels are not treated, they also lead in the long term to increased cholesterol levels, combined with obesity, circulatory disorders and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
In addition, a fatty liver develops, which in turn is associated with a variety of complaints – for example jaundice, chronic pain and loss of performance. This can be accompanied by hardening of the arteries, which is noticeable in the form of speech disorders, pain in the limbs, paralysis and chest pain, among other things. In the long run, increased blood lipid levels also have a negative effect on wellbeing.
Those affected usually feel ill and are less productive overall. Difficulty concentrating, tiredness and fatigue as well as dizziness can occur. In the later stages of the disease, life-threatening complications such as heartbeat and stroke cannot be ruled out.
Elevated blood lipid levels cannot be seen externally. However, they mostly occur in connection with weight problems and a generally unhealthy lifestyle. In order to avoid serious consequences, you should see a doctor if the symptoms and complaints mentioned occur.
Diagnosis & course
Elevated blood lipid levels are usually determined by the attending physician. As part of a laboratory blood test, it can be determined exactly whether there are elevated values, what these are and how drastic the increase is.
Such blood tests should be done regularly, especially if there are risk factors such as obesity, lack of exercise or diabetes. The following applies: the more risk factors there are, the lower the blood lipid values should be in order to avoid serious secondary diseases.
If elevated blood lipid levels remain untreated, the vessels in the body increasingly calcify. As a result, there is a risk of life-threatening diseases such as heart attacks, strokes or fatty liver disease.
When should you go to the doctor?
High blood lipid levels and high cholesterol are the main risk factors for hardening of the arteries and can promote heart attack, stroke and even arterial occlusive disease. Therefore, they should always be examined by a doctor, they can be a symptom of various diseases, and early treatment improves the chances of recovery.
Particularly people who are very overweight, have gout and diabetes should be examined more closely, because elevated blood lipid levels cannot be recognized by typical symptoms; only a blood count can provide information. The examination can be carried out by a general practitioner, who can also handle the treatment if necessary. Kidney and liver problems should also be examined by a doctor. In some cases, increased blood lipid levels can also cause muscle pain and muscle wasting, which should also be examined and treated by a doctor.
Affected people can also do a lot to improve their health themselves, because the main cause is usually an unhealthy lifestyle and poor diet. A doctor may recommend an individually tailored nutritional program that the patient can test for several weeks. The blood lipid levels will then be checked again. In addition, it is important to limit alcohol consumption and get enough exercise to improve fat burning. If these measures are not sufficient, he can prescribe additional medication.
Treatment & Therapy
If the blood lipid level is only recently or not yet significantly increased, the person concerned can try to lower them with some lifestyle changes. This includes regular exercise and the loss of excess weight as well as a diet in which the body only receives a few animal fats.
Often an improvement in blood lipid levels can already be achieved in this way. According to statistics, values decrease by up to 30% when lifestyle adjustments are made. However, if the attending physician determines that the blood lipid levels are not falling, he will also initiate drug therapy. There are different alternatives that are more or less suitable depending on the individual medical history.
For example, the body’s own production of cholesterol can be reduced, which leads to a general decrease in blood lipid levels. Alternatively, drugs are used that convert the cholesterol into bile acid. The doctor and patient should ideally find out which medication is used in a detailed discussion.
In particularly severe cases, blood washing can be carried out in order to regulate the blood lipid level in the organism. However, such a procedure is very rarely necessary. Usually very good results are achieved through drug therapy. A regular check of the blood values is advisable in any case.
Outlook & forecast
The prognosis for hyperlipidemia depends on several factors. The influencing factors include the individual values of cholesterol and triglyceride, the lifestyle of the person affected, previous illnesses and the age of the patient.
With a good and balanced diet, sufficient sporting activities and a healthy lifestyle, the elevated blood lipid levels can in many cases be reduced even without medical treatment. Obesity and regular alcohol consumption should be avoided in order to improve health.
If there is an illness, the prognosis often worsens. In the case of a congenital metabolic disorder or diabetes, the patient needs long-term therapy or lifelong drug treatment. The blood lipid values have to be checked regularly and corrected by the administration of medicines.
By optimizing the diet, the symptoms can be alleviated despite a diagnosed underlying disease. The consumption of animal fats through fatty meat or eggs should be reduced or avoided so that the blood lipid levels drop.
If the hyperlipidemia remains unnoticed or untreated for a long time, the prognosis worsens. The vessels in the organism begin to calcify and circulatory disorders set in. In severe cases, a heart attack or stroke threatens life-threatening or fatal conditions.
Since elevated blood lipid levels often result from personal lifestyle, it is advisable to ensure sufficient exercise and a balanced diet from the outset. Avoiding stimulants such as alcohol and nicotine and avoiding obesity can also help to keep blood lipid levels at a normal level. To check this, it is advisable to have regular blood tests. This can prevent the occurrence of serious secondary diseases.
Elevated blood lipids are dangerous. You must therefore remain under observation. It is difficult for aftercare that the organism can produce cholesterol itself and ensure high blood lipid levels.
Those affected should try to improve their blood lipid levels through a healthy, low-fat and animal-product-poor diet and sufficient exercise. If this is not possible, drug treatment must be considered. The aim of follow-up care must be to prevent the development of a metabolic syndrome and all of its health consequences.
For overweight and obese people, follow-up care must be aimed at losing weight. If necessary, a stay in a clinic with this aim makes sense. Patients who have been treated for Hodgkin’s syndrome may experience long-term effects from the therapy if they are cancer-free. These can affect different organs.
It is therefore advisable to take these patients for long-term follow-up. In particular, attention should be paid to increased blood lipid levels, obesity or diabetes. This is because of the increased risk of heart problems in later years as a result of treatment.
The same obligation to provide long-term follow-up care applies to other cancers that have been treated in children, adolescents or adults. Elevated blood lipid levels represent a risk maximization that should be avoided.
You can do that yourself
Elevated blood lipid levels can cause vascular calcification and, in the medium to long term, lead to a heart attack or stroke. In some of those affected, the elevated blood lipid levels can be attributed to constitutional metabolic disorders. In the vast majority of cases, however, the disorder results from the patient’s lifestyle. Obesity, diabetes and lack of exercise lead to high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. As a rule, however, a wrong diet has the greatest influence.
Those affected help themselves best if they consistently change their way of life and diet. This is not always easy and should be done gradually. The best thing to do is to get support from a trained nutritionist. In almost all cases, an excessively high proportion of animal-based foods is the reason for the excessively high blood lipid levels.
Those affected should then become familiar with the benefits of a plant-based diet. A complete renouncement of the favorite dishes is usually not necessary, but a drastic reduction in the intake of animal fats is unavoidable. Many people affected are helped by substitute products that smell and taste like meat or sausage, but actually contain little or no animal components.
Anyone who has no experience with such products can get advice from specialist dealers. Vegan mail order companies, organic supermarkets and health food stores now have a large selection of plant-based alternatives.
It is also important, especially for those affected who are also overweight, to have enough exercise. If you don’t have enough discipline to do this, you should register in a fitness studio that also offers motivational training and monitoring of your personal exercise plan.