Vision Impairment in the United States could more than double in the next 30 years.
As baby boomers age, the visually impaired and blind could more than double.
According to several resources, approximately 12 million Americans suffer from some vision problem. We also know the leading causes of blindness and vision impairment in the United States are age-related eye diseases, and many of them can be prevented.
Common Eye Disorders
The number one vision impairment is Refractive Errors. Refractive errors (nearsightedness and farsightedness) make it hard to see clearly because the shape of your eye keeps light from focusing correctly on your retina (a light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye). More than 150 million Americans use corrective lenses for refractive errors.
It is estimated that 1.8 million Americans aged 40 years and older are affected by Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). A lot more people have a substantial risk of developing AMD in the years to come.
AMD affects the central part of the retina, known as the macula, which allows the eye to discriminate fine details in the visual field center. AMD is the leading cause of permanent impairment of reading and fine or close-up vision among people aged 65 years and older.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens and the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. An estimated 20.5 million Americans over 40 have cataracts in one or both of their eyes.
Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is a common complication of diabetes, and if treated early, some treatments work to “right the wrong”. DR is characterized by progressive damage to the retina’s blood vessels, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that is necessary for good vision.
90% of blindness caused by diabetes is preventable. The risks of DR are reduced significantly through disease management. Better control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and lipid abnormalities. And early diagnosis and timely treatment significantly reduce the risk of vision loss.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. Unfortunately, visual loss can progress quickly. However, the pain and discomfort lead patients to seek medical attention before permanent damage can occur.
Amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye,” is common amongst children and needs to be treated early in childhood to prevent permanent damage later in life.
How To Prevent Vision Loss
An estimated 93 million adults in the United States are at high risk for severe vision loss, but only half visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months. Regular eye exams are important for catching eye problems such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts before they get too bad. Routine screening also ensures your eyeglass prescription is up-to-date.
We need to make sure we are giving more education. Screenings are critical for both younger and older Americans to prevent vision impairment that can dramatically affect one’s quality of life.