Eye diseases become more common as we age. By the time you hit 40 years old, diseases such as primary open-angle glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can begin to show early signs.
Dr. Jason C. Cheung reminds Americans with no signs or risk factors for eye disease of 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.
“Many eye diseases progress without any warning signs,” says Dr. Cheung. “Gradual changes in vision can impact your ability to function independently and have confidence in your abilities. One of the hardest adjustments a person can make is adapting to a life with permanent vision loss. That is why nothing replaces a comprehensive baseline eye exam.”
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, Bainbridge and Silverdale Eye Physicians recommends that individuals see their ophthalmologist to determine how frequently their eyes should be examined.
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. Despite these statistics, Americans remain relatively unconcerned about vision loss. A survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology for its EyeSmart™ campaign reveals that less than a quarter of Americans (23 percent) are very concerned about losing their vision, while a majority feel weight gain or joint and back pain are of greater concern than vision loss.
“Unfortunately, millions of people will suffer significant vision loss and blindness because they don’t know the risks,” said Dr. Jason C. Cheung. “That is why the Academy launched the EyeSmart campaign, because knowing your risks can save your sight.”