Baby Boomers: Look Out
BABY BOOMERS ARE LOSING FOCUS
Suddenly the print in the paper seems too small. The numbers on the clock are blurry. Sooner or later, almost everybody notices that his or her vision is changing. That’s why, as we get older, regular comprehensive eye exams are more important than ever.
AS WE AGE, SO DO OUR EYES
In the United States, 119 million people were born between 1946 and 1965. These are the baby boomers. Studies show that over the next 30 years the current number of blind or visually impaired Americans will double. Boomers will be hit the hardest.
EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES
Want to prevent or slow vision loss? According to many eye care professionals, the best way to accomplish this is with early detection through regular eye exams. Even though vision may be clear, exams can uncover changes in the eye caused by retinal disorders or glaucoma, which may have no symptoms in the early stages. Eye exams can also lead to the earliest detection of other serious health problems- including diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure).
WHAT CAN GO WRONG?
Presbyopia is a progressive condition that makes reading and doing close work, such as sewing, increasingly difficult as eyes age. For people in their 40s and early 50s, it’s often the first sign of aging; by age 55, it affects almost everyone. Even those with perfect eyesight may find they can no longer read books and printed materials at normal distances. While it’s not sight-threatening, presbyopia can only be properly diagnosed and treated by an eye care professional. Glasses and bifocals can be prescribed to help you adapt to the change.
Diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes, results in broken, leaking or blocked blood vessels in the retina. Over time, this impairs vision. Nearly half of all people with diabetes have some problem with retinopathy, and the risk increases with age. An estimated 5.3 million Americans are currently affected.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which currently afflicts 1.6 million Americans, results from changes to the macula ( a portion of the retina at the back of the eye), which is responsible for clear, sharp vision. It is one of the most common causes of legal blindness and vision impairment in older Americans. Those with AMD experience blurred vision and the inability to clearly see images in front of them.
A cataract is a clouding of the eyes naturally clear lens. Most cataracts appear with advancing age, but they can be caused by smoking, diabetes, and excessive exposure to sunlight. They currently affect nearly 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older.
Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the U.S, affects approximately 2.2 million Americans age 40 and older. This includes an estimated 1.5 to 2 million people who do not even know that they have glaucoma. Glaucoma is caused by a build-up of fluid in the eye as a result of too much fluid being produced or not enough fluid being drained. This increase in pressure can damage the optic nerve and cause vision to fade.
If you’re African American, have a family history of glaucoma, are nearsighted or diabetic, you are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
SET YOUR SIGHTS ON REGULAR EYE EXAMS
To prevent or slow vision loss, you need regular eye exams. But what does regular mean? Talk to your eye doctor to find out. If your family has a history of eye disease, diabetes, or poor health, or if you’re taking medicine that could have side effects on the eye, you may need an eye exam once a year. For more information on vision health, contact Baldwin Eye Care, LLC.
Call Baldwin Eye Care, LLC to schedule an appointment with your eye care professional. It’s important to seek a professional diagnosis to determine the correct cause of your symptoms.
This information was provided by the Vision Council of America.