Unfortunately, eye health isn’t as simple as an extra helping of carrots—most eye diseases don’t present any symptoms or warning signs, and it can take a regularly scheduled eye exam to identify potential health complications. About 93 million adults in the United States are at high risk for vision loss, but only half visited an eye doctor in the past year. Luckily, the CDC estimates that about fifty percent of visual impairment and blindness cases can be prevented through early diagnosis and timely treatment.
Vision loss ranks among the top 10 causes of disability in the US, and with an aging population and an expected increase in chronic diseases like diabetes that cause vision loss, those numbers are expected to double by 2050. Your family history is a large predictor of your eye health, as many ocular conditions are hereditary. If you are able, ask your family about their eye health, and be sure to keep your doctor up to date on what you learn. Additionally, if you take any medications that have serious eye side effects, you should be sure to monitor your health with a regular eye exam.
A few other risk factors for eye conditions include chronic conditions like diabetes and habits like smoking and prolonged exposure to sunlight. Age also plays a role – our risk for visual impairment and blindness increases as we get older. Over the age of 40, we’re especially susceptible to macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. 90% of blindness caused by diabetes is preventable, so early detection is key. For glaucoma detection, doctors recommend a dilated eye exam every one or two years. The prevalence of any eye-related condition increases with age, but racial and ethnic health disparities can put African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic and Latino Americans at greater risk for vision loss as well.
What’s good for your body is good for your eyes, too! Adopting habits like these can improve your eye health:
You can take extra steps to protect your vision from the outside in:
You can learn more about eye health or schedule an appointment with us at our Vision Medical Services page. Remember, early detection is key to vision health.