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On World Sight Day, a Reminder that Earlier Eye Disease Detection Means a Better Chance of Saving Vision

10/14/2010   10:58:46 AM

American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends baseline eye exam at age 40 for those without risk factors or symptoms

SAN FRANCISCO-October 14 is World Sight Day and through its EyeSmart™ campaign the American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds the public that a baseline eye exam is a simple yet important measure for protecting your vision. Worldwide, 314 million people are visually impaired, of whom 45 million are blind.

The Academy recommends that individuals with no signs or risk factors for eye disease know the importance of getting a baseline eye disease screening at age 40—the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. Based on the results of the initial screening, an ophthalmologist will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams. For individuals at any age with symptoms of or at risk for eye disease, such as those with a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, the Academy recommends that individuals see their ophthalmologist to determine how frequently their eyes should be examined. The earlier that your Eye M.D. can detect and treat an eye disease, the better your chances are of preserving precious vision.

By 2020, 43 million Americans will face significant vision loss or blindness from age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration, an increase of more than 50 percent over the current number of Americans with such diseases. Because women in the United States live longer than men, they are disproportionately affected by age-related eye diseases.

Halloween is a popular time for people to use decorative contact lenses, but it's important to take proper care year-round. Websites often advertise decorative contacts as if they were cosmetics, fashion accessories or toys. With whimsical packaging and names like Dolly Eyes, their targets are often teens and young adults. Claims such as "one size fits all," and "No need to see an eye specialist" are false advertising. "Consumers need to know that permanent eye damage can occur from using over-the-counter lenses," Dr. Steinemann said. "Personally, I have seen far too many serious cases in both children and adults from using decorative lenses. My most recent case was a patient who was only 12 years old."

Learn about eye injuries or find an Eye M.D. in your area by visiting www.geteyesmart.org. Consumers can also submit questions about eye health to an ophthalmologist at www.geteyesmart.org/askaneyemd

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About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The Academy is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 29,000 members worldwide.  Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's website at www.aao.org.


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