• Ophthalmologists Encourage Making Your Eyes Part of a Healthy Aging Strategy

    Nearly two-thirds of American adults report eye or vision problems, but only one in eight have been examined by a medical doctor

    SAN FRANCISCO –  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 [i]. 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, only 13 percent admitted they had been seen 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. To interview ophthalmologists or patients who can speak to the importance of eye exams, please contact the Academy’s Public Relations Department at media@aao.org.   

    About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest membership association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 ophthalmologists, we are passionate about protecting sight and fighting preventable blindness. For more than 120 years, we have been educators, innovators and advocates for the public and our profession to ensure the highest-quality medical and surgical eye care. Our EyeSmart® program is a preeminent source of eye health information for the public and empowers people to preserve their vision. For more information, visit www.aao.org. 

    About the Survey

    The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of American Academy of Ophthalmology Feb. 1-3, 2016 among 2,048 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact media@aao.org

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    [i] https://nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes/aging_eye