Regular Eye Exams
Half of all blindness can be prevented, yet the number of people suffering vision loss continues to increase. Having an annual eye exam is crucial in protecting your and your family’s eyesight. These annual exams allow your doctor to detect changes in the front of your eye so alterations can be made to your eyeglass or contact lens prescription. However, your doctor also needs to look at the back of your eye, the retina, to check that it is healthy and not damaged or showing signs of disease. Many eye diseases, if detected early, can be treated successfully without total vision loss.
Regular eye care, by means of annual eye exams can uncover both eye and systemic (entire body) problems. If these problems are left untreated, there is a risk of disability, suffering, and loss of productivity. The goals of an eye exam are to avoid or minimize adverse effects on the eye and vision, as well as to identify potential problems early in order to prevent any problems from getting worse, and potentially leading to vision loss.
The most common eye condition is refractive error (the need to correct the vision of the eye with glasses). The three most common refractive errors are myopia (nearsightedness) which affects an estimated 25% of the population, hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism (an uneven curvature of the cornea that causes a distortion in vision) which affects an estimated 53-63% of the population.
Presbyopia, which is the age-related loss of accommodation (resulting in the need for bifocals), starts between the ages of 38-45 years, and affects virtually 100% of the population by around 50 years. It is estimated that 52% of the US population wears corrective lenses. Cataracts (loss of clarity of the lens inside the eye) is estimated to affect 42% of individuals between the ages of 52-64 years. However, only about 5% of these people suffer significant loss of vision. Nearly everyone develops some degree of cataracts by age 75-85 years. Cataracts, if caught early are surgically removed, generally as an outpatient with outstanding results.
In addition, there are various retinal diseases and conditions of the eye which result in loss of vision. There are also diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure which can be discovered by examining the eyes. Side effects of drugs may also sometimes be observed during eye examinations. Again, early detection is the key factor in treatment and sight preservation.
So, protect you and your family’s vision and overall health by having annual eye exams.
Children’s Eye Care
Many vision problems begin at an early age in childhood, so it’s important for children to receive proper eye care from the time they are infants. Early detection and treatment are essential to preventing conditions that could potentially cause problems or vision loss.
In the United States, more than 12.1 million school-age children have some form of vision problem, but as few as 14% of children receive an eye exam before entering first grade.*
In addition, many, if not most, schools have no regular screening program in place and even when mandated by law, screenings are often not done. Poor eyesight can have a significant adverse affect on a child’s educational and social performance.
The American Optometric Association recommends that every child has a professional eye exam shortly after birth, by six months of age and again just prior to entering school. Once in school, children should receive regular eye exams.