February 2015 - National Low Vision Awareness Month – What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You
As you are reading this, you have probably taken for granted the ease with which you are reading. For those afflicted with “low vision” reading their computer screen is a difficult task, even after enlarging the text. According to IALVS, Low vision is defined as visual impairment that is not correctible through surgery, (such as conventional glasses, contact lenses, LASIK, or cataract surgery), which is reduced to the point of interfering with everyday tasks. Vision may be reduced from medical, congenital, or traumatic causes. According to The National Eye Institute, 2.9 million Americans currently suffer from some type of Low Vision ailment. Someone with Low Vision may be struggling to read this article, write, drive, or watch television.
Symptoms Most eye disease symptoms are painless and diseases may be advanced prior to any noticeable changes. However, when noticed, Low Vision is often characterized by partial sight, such as blurred vision, blind spots, or tunnel vision.
Early Detection Annual eye exams are necessary, partially due to the speed at which vision changes occur in seniors. In some conditions, it may be too late to prevent blindness if not seen annually. There are no cures for diseases such as Age-Related Macular Degeneration, meaning the damaged cells will not regenerate and it can only be treated but not cured.
Prevention One’s lifestyle can greatly affect vision degeneration. One can avoid smoking, exercise regularly, maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, eat a healthy diet rich in green leafy vegetables and fish, and limit exposure to UV and ‘blue lights’ rays – those from digital devices – as the damage from these waves are cumulative throughout your life. One should also be sure to use an Amsler Grid’ to monitor vision between exams and report any changes to your doctor immediately.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss among those 50 and older, is a disorder of the macula in which the central part of one’s vision is blocked (IALVS). Approximately 10 to 14 million are affected by AMD in the United States alone, according to The National Eye Institute. For those who have lost vision to AMD, Low Vision care will address the functional limitations and provide rehabilitation for patients with this visual disease. The Low Vision specialists will improve a person’s functioning by maximizing the remaining vision the person has.
February is dedicated to Low Vision Awareness, so please be sure to schedule an exam for you or your loved ones and ensure healthy eyesight for all well into the future.