May is Healthy Vision Month
May is Healthy Vision Month
Healthy Vision Month is the perfect time to learn how to protect your vision. SIGHT Studies, supported by the Vision Health Initiative (VHI) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), encourage you to take care of your eyes and check for common eye problems by having a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Here are a few things to know about healthy vision and preventing vision loss from eye diseases.
What should we know about our vision and eyes to make sure that they are healthy?
Living a healthy lifestyle is important for your vision. This means maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, not smoking, and managing long-term health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Other good practices for healthy vision are using protective eyewear to prevent injuries while playing sports or doing work in the yard, painting, or home repairs and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
What are some eye disorders or eye diseases that affect healthy vision?
The leading causes of blindness and low vision in the United States are primarily age-related eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, which causes damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye, glaucoma, which causes damage to the optic nerve, age-related macular degeneration, which gradually affects central vision, and cataract, a clouding of the eye. Other frequent vision problems are refractive errors, which happen when the shape of your eye doesn’t bend light correctly and makes it hard to see clearly. Refractive errors are common problems and easily corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or laser surgery.
How can we prevent vision loss, particularly from eye diseases?
The major eye diseases are age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Some of these diseases are also hereditary, therefore, knowing your family history is important because it puts you at a higher risk for developing one yourself. Research suggests several other risk factors for some of these eye diseases, such as having diabetes or high blood pressure, being 60 years or older, belonging to Black or Hispanic population groups, living in poverty or in rural areas, and not having insurance. One way to check for such eye diseases is to get a dilated eye exam. You should see an eye doctor for this exam.
How is the VHI at CDC addressing the issue of vision loss in high-risk populations?
Age-related eye diseases are a public health issue because prevalence of blindness and vision impairment increases rapidly with age among all racial and ethnic groups, particularly after age 75. Although there is no cure for eye diseases like glaucoma, early detection and management is key to slow the progression of the disease and the resulting vision loss. In addition, demographic and social factors like race/ethnicity, income, and insurance are related to eye health disparities. Since 2012, CDC’s VHI has funded programs that aimed to detect and mange glaucoma in targeted populations at higher risk for glaucoma particularly those facing disparities in eye care access. Using innovative eye service intervention models, such as telehealth services, these programs have evaluated approaches to reach the population in the community where they live or see their health care providers. These programs have found higher rates of glaucoma-related detections in these communities and provided opportunities for management of the disease.