According to a national survey released today 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, eye physicians and surgeons are 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, 13 percent said they had never sought an examination by an ophthalmologist.
"Just like graying hair, weakening hips and slowing metabolism, our eyes are impacted by age, usually starting around age 40," said Rebecca J. Taylor, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Many adults around this age begin taking steps such as eating a healthier diet and increasing exercise to prevent their risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other issues. Having regular exams to prevent potentially blinding eye disease should also be part of this overall health maintenance plan."
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 problems or disease. Those who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, may require more frequent exams.
For those over age 65 who may be concerned about cost or lack of health insurance, the American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeCare America program offers eligible seniors a comprehensive eye exam. Some may also qualify for up to one year of treatment at no out-of-pocket cost.
For more information on eye disease and conditions, visit the Academy's EyeSmart® website.