Your eyes are the windows to your health. Did you know that your eye care professional—through an eye exam— can observe blood vessels that show whether or not someone has diabetes, high blood pressure or small blood clots, has heart disease, might have had a stroke, and even some signs of some types of cancer?
This is why a comprehensive eye exam is important when you discover changes in your vision. If you are over the age of 60, an eye exam can help to determine the cause of your low vision. Low vision is a big problem with little awareness—currently, more than 2.9 million Americans suffer from low vision; it is most prevalent in people age 60+.
Low vision is a condition often coupled with a diagnosis of an aging eye disease—such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, cataracts –or other systemic and neurological diseases. With early diagnosis and treatment, many cases of low vision can be tremendously slowed or stopped in their tracks.
Individuals, their family, and friends should take notice when any vision loss begins to interfere with activities of daily living (ADLs)—cooking, driving, recognizing faces. Or if these individuals stop participating in a hobby—reading, knitting, crosswords—that they once loved due to a lowered ability caused by progressive loss of vision.
Whatever the level of decline, individuals with low vision can be helped to make the most use of their remaining vision, which leads to improving their quality of life, increased socialization, and even prolonged life span through vision rehabilitation and use of low vision devices (hi tech magnifiers).
So take some time during the month of May to evaluate your vision. If you find that it is changing, schedule an eye exam—your health depends on it.
For more information on Healthy Vision Month, dilated eye exams, or the National Eye Institute, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes/.