We’re living in the golden age of health. Now, more than ever, people are concerned about their health and physical well-being. This isn’t to say that the concept of health is in anyway new (just look at how far back Traditional Chinese Medicine dates), but the way we take care of ourselves sure has changed.
Now, cooking magazines and cooking shows feature healthy recipe twists to junk food classics like mac and cheese, pizza and hamburgers.
There’s such an emphasis on superfoods and being active, which is great, don’t get me wrong. But what about our eyes? What happened to taking care of our eyes? Unfortunately, it seems that amidst all of this health craze, people have forgotten about vision health.
We wish we were exaggerating, but based on the findings of a survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), it seems that American adults are neglecting their eye care.
Neglected Eyesight: The Results
The study was conducted by Harris Poll in February 2016 and was commissioned by the AAO. It surveyed 2048 American adults over the age of 18.
According to the results of the AAO’s survey, 64 percent of adults surveyed claimed they had vision problems. However, only 13 percent (or one in eight) of the participants said they had been examined by an eye doctor.
Ideally that last percentage would have read, “100 percent of the participants had had their eyes examined by a professional”. Alas, this is the reality we live in. Many Americans, including those who have admitted to having a vision problem, don’t get their eyes checked.
The survey found that participants with vision problems were suffering from common one such as:
- Difficulty reading up close
- Poor night vision
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Watery eyes
- Red eyes
- Flashes of light in their vision
The results of the survey are clear. For all our emphasis on health, there isn’t enough education available when it comes to eye health. Sure, eating well and exercising is a great start but there’s more to your health that just that.
Eyes need special care because they are more complex than any other organ in the body. People need to be able to recognize warning signs for vision conditions and diseases to better care for them. And of course, people need to see their eye doctors.
Early Detection Is Half the Battle
The most devastating part of this study comes when you realize that the vision problems described by the participants could have been caught and prevented by an eye doctor. Going for an eye exam could have helped this 64 percent cope with and treat their conditions.
Luckily, none of these vision problems are particularly dire… yet. Neglected eye health can lead to more than just blurred vision and watery eyes. If you don’t get your eyes checked regularly, you risk unknowingly developing eye diseases that can cost you your vision if not caught at the right moment.
Glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are two examples of eye diseases that develop with little to no symptoms. As both these diseases progress they can damage your eyesight. Glaucoma can lead to blindness and AMD can lead to low vision.
It is nearly impossible to know if these diseases are developing in your eyes without a comprehensive eye exam. Symptoms only start to show in the late stages of the diseases. By that time it is too late to reverse the effects of the disease. You have to learn how to cope with your poor eye sight.
On the other hand, if a disease like glaucoma or AMD is detected in the early stages through a routine eye exam, you and your doctor can begin take the right steps towards stalling and preventing the disease from progressing.
When you go for an eye exam what you’re really doing is working towards preserving your eyesight. Young adults and older adults alike need eye exams to keep their eyes working properly.
Otherwise you risk losing that vision. Even something that seems harmless like blurred vision can severely diminish your quality of life. Imagine not being able to read or drive without glasses all of a sudden and for the rest of your life because you couldn’t take one hour to go to the eye doctor.
When Should You See Your Eye Doctor?
Sometimes it can be tricky to know when to go to the eye doctor. It isn’t like scheduling an appointment with a general physician, which you would normally do annually. Deciding when to go to the eye doctor really depends on the individual and what their specific needs are, but here are some guidelines.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. If you experience pain in the eye or sustain an eye injury or suspect that something is severely wrong, get to a hospital or eye doctor immediately.
Grab a nice frozen bag of peas out of the freezer, pop the bag over your eye and call your doctor to inform them that you’ll be swinging by.
If you’re an adult 18 to 40 years old with healthy eyes, you should be seeing your eye doctor once every two years. If you have an existing condition like a refractive error, then you should see your eye doctor once a year. At the very least to make sure that your eyeglass prescription is still up to date.
Over the age of 40 to age 65, you should be going to the eye doctor once a year no matter what. Unless your doctor requests more frequent visits once a year should suffice.
If you’re over the age of 65, you’ll want to see your eye doctor once or twice a year depending on your health and doctor’s recommendation.
Come on, America! Let’s shock the AAO the next time they conduct a similar study to show that we are taking care of our eyes. You only have to have them checked once every two years, how hard can that be?