Make Your Eyes Part of a Healthy Aging Strategy

Nearly two-thirds of American adults report eye or vision problems, but only one in eight have been examined by a medical doctor

According to a national survey released by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, nearly two out of three American adults report having eye or vision problems. A significant percentage of them, however, fail to seek medical attention in the form of regular, sight-saving eye exams. In observance of Healthy Aging Month in September, Advanced Eyecare Professionals (AEP) joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in emphasizing the importance of having regular eye exams to maintain healthy eyes and vision.

Some of the more common age-related eye diseases include age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Early detection and treatment of these conditions can help to save sight before vision loss occurs . Ophthalmologists – the physicians that specialize in medical and surgical eye care – recommend a dilated comprehensive eye exam as the best way to prevent these conditions from becoming debilitating.

U.S. Adults Do Not Get Eye Exams as Often as Recommended
The survey results emphasize a need for more education about the importance of medical eye exams. Findings showed that 64 percent of adults had at least one or more of the following issues with their eyes or vision:

• difficulty seeing at night;
• blurry vision;
• reading up close;
• flashes of light;
• red, watery eyes; and,
• double vision.

Despite experiencing some level of impairment, only 13 percent admitted they had been seen by an ophthalmologist.

“Vision changes can make it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as reading the mail, shopping, cooking, walking safely and driving,” says Dr. David Harrell an ophthalmologist with AEP. “Among the top 5 causes of disability in older adults is vision impairment and blindness. Losing your vision may not be life-threatening, but it certainly affects your quality of life.”

How Often Do Adults Need Eye Exams?
The Academy recommends that a healthy adult get a baseline eye exam at age 40, even if they have no history of eye problems or eye disease. Those who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, may require more frequent exams.

“The risk of eye disease increases with age for everyone, but if there is a family history of eye disease it is particularly important to have routine eye exams to protect your sight,” says Dr. Michael Flohr an ophthalmologist with the AEP eyecare team. Undiagnosed glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetes are the leading causes of blindness in the United States. It is possible that you can lose almost 50% of your vision before you notice any changes! “A complete dilated medical eye exam is recommended every year if over 40, and a well eye exam every year without medical conditions,” Dr. Flohr says.

For more information on eye disease and conditions call our office.

About the Survey
The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of American Academy of Ophthalmology Feb. 1-3, 2016 among 2,048 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact media@aao.org.

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