NEI is partnering with the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to raise public awareness of vision problems and to make eye care a priority. You can help by getting the word out.

A promotional toolkit for Healthy Vision Month makes this a snap. It contains public service announcements, social media, videos and press releases you can adapt to your practice, local media, or website.

The key to treating many eye conditions is early detection. Annual eye exams and an awareness of symptoms are important.

Although older adults tend to have more vision problems, preschoolers may not see as well as they could. Just 1 out of every 7 preschoolers receives an eye exam, and fewer than 1 out of every 4 receives some type of vision screening.

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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends vision screening for all children aged 3 to 5 years to find conditions such as amblyopia, or lazy eye, which can be treated effectively if caught early.

Some eye conditions can cause vision loss and even blindness, including …

  • Cataracts, a clouding of the eye.
  • Diabetic retinopathy, which causes damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye.
  • Glaucoma, damage to the optic nerve, often with increased eye pressure.
  • Age-related macular degeneration, which gradually affects central vision.

Other eye conditions, such as refractive errors, which happen when the shape of your eye doesn’t bend light correctly, are common problems easily corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or laser surgery. An estimated 11 million Americans aged 12 years and older could see better if they used corrective lenses, or had eye surgery, if appropriate.

Vision Warning Flags for the Public

The public should know that the following symptoms are reasons to see an ophthalmologist right away.
In addition to your comprehensive dilated eye exams, visit an eye care professional if you have

  • Decreased vision
  • Eye pain
  • Drainage or redness of the eye
  • Double vision
  • Diabetes
  • Floaters (tiny specks that appear to float before your eyes)
  • Circles (halos) around light sources; or
  • If you see flashes of light

Eye health is a window on overall health

People with vision problems are more likely than those with good vision to have diabetes, poor hearing, heart problems, high blood pressure, lower back pain, and strokes, as well as an increased risk for falls, injury and depression. Among people aged 65 and older, 54.2 percent of those who are blind and 41.7 percent of those with impaired vision say their overall health is fair or poor. Just 21.5 percent of older Americans without vision problems reported fair to poor health.