Each year, the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the National Institutes of Health, celebrates Healthy Vision Month, a time to call attention to the importance of taking care of our eyesight.
This year’s theme is “Make Vision a Focus,” emphasizing that while many Americans seek regular health and dental care, they may fail to have their eyes examined. Did you know that more than 23 million Americans have never had a single eye exam?
The NEI offers these tips to protect our eyesight:
A family history of eye disease isn’t the only risk factor for eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. The top risk factor, as you might guess, is age. Today, 8.2 million seniors in America are living with visual impairment, and according to a recent projection by researchers from the University of Southern California’s Roski Eye Institute, that number will double to 16.4 million over the next 35 years.
The study authors reported, “People who are visually impaired or blind can suffer both physical and mental health decline, including an increased risk for chronic health conditions such as diabetes, unintended injuries including a higher risk for falls, social isolation and withdrawal from activities that require driving or independent mobility, depression and even death.”
Vision loss is also costly to our society. The USC research team, led by Dr. Rohit Varma, reported that the economic burden of vision loss makes it among the costliest conditions in the nation.
The NEI says that everyone older than 50 should have a comprehensive eye examination. Even if you are not experiencing vision problems, it’s important to have a dilated eye exam. Early detection and treatment can help save your sight.
To learn more about the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of eye diseases, visit the National Eye Institute website.