Vision Health Frequently Asked Questions
Can I do anything about my chances for vision loss?
It is estimated that half of visual impairment and blindnessexternal icon can be prevented through early diagnosis and timely treatment. Despite cost-effective treatment and eye preservation interventions, the number of potentially blinding eye diseases continues to escalate. Increased awareness can help — remind family members and friends at higher risk for eye diseases and vision loss to have their eyes examined regularly.
What are the major causes of vision loss for individuals aged 40 years and older?
The prevalence of blindness and visual impairment increases with age in all racial and ethnic groups. The major eye diseases among people 40 years and older are age-gelated macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
What should I know about diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathyexternal icon is the leading cause of blindness among working-age (ages 20–74) Americans. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. Efficacious and cost-effective interventions to detect and treat diabetic retinopathy are available. Individuals with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam each year, but only about two thirds receive the recommended exam. Moreover, good management of diabetes by good glucose, blood pressure, and lipid control can reduce the progression of diabetic retinopathy. People at risk for diabetes should modify their lifestyle to delay or prevent diabetes by good diet and physical activity.
What should I know about cataracts?
Cataractsexternal icon are a major cause of vision loss. Among Americans aged 40 years and older, 24.4 million, have cataracts. Cataract removal surgery can restore vision, and this surgery is highly cost-effective; however, among African Americans, unoperated senile cataracts remain a major cause of blindness. Some possible risk factors other than age could be diabetes, smoking, and prolonged exposure to sunlight.
What should I know about age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?
About 2,000,00 Americans aged 50 years and older have AMDexternal icon. Treatment with zinc and antioxidants has been shown to reduce the risk and progression to advanced AMD among people aged 50 years and older. The greatest risk factor is age; however, other risk factors include, smoking, obesity, family history, race (white), and gender (female). Eating healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding smoking can reduce the risk of AMD.
What should I know about glaucoma?
Glaucomaexternal icon can be controlled and vision loss stopped by early detection and timely treatment. Nevertheless, half of all people with glaucoma are not diagnosed and glaucoma is still the number-one blinding disease among African Americans. People who are at risk for glaucoma are African Americans aged 40 years and older, everyone older than age 60, especially Mexican Americans, and people with a family history of glaucoma. People falling in these groups should have a dilated eye exam every two years by an eye care professional.
What should I know about amblyopia or lazy eye?
Amblyopiaexternal icon (or lazy eye) is the most common cause of vision loss among children. It affects 2 to 3 out of 100 children. If it is not treated timely and properly, it can stay through adulthood. It is a very common cause of vision loss in one eye among children and young adults.