Health Tips for Vision Awareness
By having your eyes checked every year, you can give yourself the best chances for early detection and treatment of the following common conditions:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
AMD is a degenerative disease. It affects the macula, a small spot in the retina. It's the leading cause of visual impairment for people 75 and older, and it's the most common cause of new cases of visual impairment for people 65 and older.
- Straight objects, like telephone poles, may appear wavy
- Print in books and magazines appears blurry
- You may see a dark spot in the center of your vision
There is no cure for AMD, but there are treatments. As always, the earlier AMD is treated, the better.
Cataracts account for one out of every seven cases of blindness in people age 45 or older. A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. It blocks the light that's needed for clear vision. Cataracts occur most frequently in adults, but even children can be affected. Symptoms of cataracts include
- Blurred or double vision
- Sensitivity to light-either feeling that light isn't bright enough for reading or that light is too bright
- Frequent change of eyeglass prescriptions, without much vision improvement
Cataracts are highly treatable with surgery, which is quick and virtually painless.
Glaucoma is an increased pressure within the eye. It damages cells that form the optic nerve, which transmits visual information to the brain.
Any damage already caused by glaucoma cannot be repaired, but there are treatments and medications that can stop the progression of the condition.
It's estimated that between two and three million Americans have glaucoma, and half of them don't know it. There are few symptoms in the early stages, which is why a thorough eye exam, performed by an ophthalmologist, is extremely important.
Regular Eye Appointments: Best Prevention
In general, you should have your eyes examined once a year. But if you have other health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you may need to see the doctor more frequently. Your doctor will tell you how often that should be.
Be sure to visit your doctor if you experience vision changes, such as
- More trouble than usual adjusting to dark rooms
- Difficulty focusing on objects
- Sensitivity to light
- Pain in and around your eyes
- Excess tearing
- Double vision
- Dryness, itching or burning
Call your eye doctor right away if the following problems arise:
- Sudden loss of vision
- Sudden hazy or blurred vision
- Flashes of light or black spots
- Halos or rainbows around light
- Loss of peripheral (side) vision
Prevent Blindness America - January 2002