There are a number of eye diseases that can contribute to vision problems. Some are incredibly prevalent, while others are rare. Here are some of the main eye diseases to look out for in yourself and your loved ones:
Many of the most common eye diseases you’ve heard of: myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), astigmatism (distorted vision), and presbyopia (loss of the ability to focus up close) are caused when the shape of the eye causes light to incorrectly focus on the retina. By one estimate, as many as 150 million Americans could benefit from refractive error correction with corrective lenses.
Caused by a clouding of the lens of the eye, cataracts can occur at any age but tend to occur more frequently as eyes age. They can also occur for other reasons, like an eye injury or as a symptom of other diseases like glaucoma. Cataracts can be fixed by surgery in most cases, and lack of treatment usually has to do with lack of knowledge about the possibility of treatment or a lack of funds for the procedure. An estimated 20.5 million (17.2%) Americans aged 40 years and older have cataract in one or both eyes.
Age Related Macular Degeneration
Affecting the macula — the central part of the retina that allows the eye to see fine details — AMD leads to blurriness to the central vision that is so key for a number of essential daily tasks.
AMD comes in two types, wet and dry.
Wet AMD is caused when a blood vessel starts to grow under the macula leading to leaking of blood and other fluids. An early symptom of wet AMD is that straight lines appear wavy.
Dry AMD is caused by the macula thinning as a natural process of aging, and makes up 70-90% of all AMD cases. An early sign of dry AMD is drusen — tiny yellow or white deposits under the retina which do not themselves cause vision loss, but show a heightened risk of AMD. It is estimated that 1.8 million Americans aged 40 years and older are affected by AMD and an additional 7.3 million with large drusen are at substantial risk of developing AMD.
The Importance of Regular Eye Exams
Whether you and your loved ones have perfect vision or are experiencing vision problems, regular eye exams are the single best way to identify current and future issues and receive prompt treatment. Eye exams are some of the fastest, most affordable, and least intrusive exams available.
Even if you have no vision problems, an occasional eye exam is a great idea; over 40 years of age, it is recommended to get an eye exam every 2 years. For young children, who are not able to report vision problems, annual eye exams are great for identifying potential problems and treating them before they can lead to delays in learning.
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