Wellness

Protect Your Eyes Throughout Life

Recognizing Vision Research Month, June 2011

The national recognition of Vision Research Month provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the significance of medical research to find effective treatments for eye diseases. While millions of Americans benefit from vision research, many eye diseases have no effective treatment options.

Researching

Think about how much you use your eyes each day. Now close your eyes and consider how you would manage if suddenly you couldn’t see.

The Vision Council reports that more than 120 million Americans experience some type of vision problem, making it the second-most prevalent health problem in the country.

For many Americans, vision problems begin early in life, underscoring the need for scheduling regular, comprehensive eye exams to evaluate eye health and vision correction needs. During the exam, eye professionals are able to detect potential eye diseases in the early stages, including glaucoma, cataracts, retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. In addition, up to 30 systemic disorders may be identified, including diabetes, certain types of tumors, high blood pressure, heart diseases and multiple sclerosis.

You also need to protect your eyes each day from injury and harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can lead to blindness.

  • Eye injuries – Wear appropriate protective eyewear when working on projects at work and at home; between 1.6 million and 2.4 million Americans sustain injuries to their eyes, with an estimated 40,000 individuals experiencing blindness in the injured eye; 90 percent of these injuries were preventable if protective eyewear had been worn
  • Sun protection – Remember to wear sunglasses with UV or UVR (ultraviolet radiation) protection to shield your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, as cumulative exposure over time can burn the cornea of your eyes; later in life individuals may experience benign growths on the surface of the eye, skin cancer on the eyelid, formation of cataracts or possibly macular degeneration

Advancements in medical research have identified the causes and successful treatments for many eye diseases and impairment concerns. While more research is needed to understand many other diseases and vision issues, you need to schedule exams regularly to have your eyes thoroughly evaluated, so health concerns may be detected at the earliest stage possible.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following guidelines for scheduling a comprehensive eye examination.

  • Children:
    • First exam at 6 months of age, another at age 3 and again when starting grade school
    • Children without vision concerns should have eye exams every two years until age 18
    • Those with vision risk factors may need an exam before 6 months of age, with more frequent appointments as recommended by their eye doctor
  • Adults:
    • Under age 40, every 5 to 10 years
    • 40 to 54 years of age, every 2 to 4 years
    • 55 to 64 years of age, every 1 to 3 years
    • 65 years of age or older, every 1 to 2 years

Since individuals have different eye care needs based on family, medical and vision history, follow your eye doctor’s recommendations for scheduling regular exams.

When was the last time you scheduled an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam? – Karen Gustin, Ameritas Group

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