May is Healthy Vision Month

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One in three Americans will experience some type of vision-impairing eye disease according to several studies. The month of May is designated as Healthy Vision Month in hopes of educating everyone about early diagnosis, and treatment relating to all vision related issues. Vision disorders are the seventh most common chronic condition for persons aged 65 and older, the ninth most common for those between the ages of 50-64 and the third most common for those aged less than 17 years old.  "Your vision changes as you get older, but so many of the problems can be avoided if you have an annual comprehensive eye exam, where detection occurs. Very common eye diseases actually have no warning signs or symptoms, which is why it is critical to be responsible about your eyesight," stated Dr. Sandy T. Feldman of ClearView Eye and Laser Medical Center.

A number of common eye diseases affect millions of Americans, some of the more prevalent include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.  Today, there are new discoveries that help treat these diseases, but the importance of early diagnosis, timely treatment and follow-up are the best option. The comprehensive dilated exams are utilized so that doctors can closely examine the back of the eye for any signs of an eye disease.  Some additional basic tips that doctors feel keep the eyes healthy include; knowing your family history, eating the right foods, maintaining a healthy weight, wearing protection eye wear during athletics, etc, washing of hands and resting your eyes periodically if your work involves a computer.

Vision impairment is associated with the inability to perform daily activities, such as reading, driving and even preparing meals. African Americans who are 40 and older as well as Mexican Americans ages 60 and up have a higher risk of having glaucoma. Another health related issue that can cause serious vision problems include people with type 1 or 2 diabetes. These individuals can develop diabetic retinopathy that can cause swelling, leakage and blockage of blood vessels that help the retina. Other prevalent eye diseases include, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) where the center part of the retina can't function. AMD affects those who have a family history of AMD, past smokers or those who are over the age of 50 years.

"I encourage everyone to get regular eye exams and make your vision a priority. There is much to be hopeful about in relation to treatment for serious vision problems. Today's  doctors are helping patients with gene transfer therapy, and there is much progress taking place with stem cell therapy. Consulting your local eye care professional about how you can predict, protect and preserve your vision is a win win. It might seem a bit strange to consider talking to your family and friends about the importance of your eyesight, but think about bringing them along to your exam if that helps or encourages," the doctor stated.