It may seem like a horrible question, but if someone asked which is worse, losing your eyesight, hearing, memory, speech, or a limb, what would you say? A majority of people think that losing one’s eyesight is the worst possible health outcome, according to a study conducted by the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The survey asked that question of more than 2000 people, who said that their top concerns with vision loss would be quality of life and loss of independence.
Yet, respondents were familiar with only some of the four diseases that cause the majority of cases of adult blindness and low vision; age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.
• 65 percent were aware of cataracts
• 63 percent were aware of glaucoma
• 50 percent were aware of macular degeneration
• 37 percent were aware of diabetic retinopathy
• 25 percent were not aware of any eye condition
Before you can protect yourself and seek early treatment for eye diseases, you must know about the diseases. Knowledge is power. Being well informed about your health risks, family history and how to take care of your vision will empower you to have the healthiest vision possible.
Knowing about silent eye diseases
Age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts have no early symptoms and usually don’t cause pain. As a result, they can develop without any indication that something is wrong. The only way to find these diseases early is with regular eye exams conducted by a skilled ophthalmologist. Although most of them are degenerative diseases without a cure, early detection can lead to treatments that can slow their progression.
Age-related macular degeneration: Nearly 11 million people in the United States suffer with Age-Related Macular Degeneration, approximately the same number of people who have been diagnosed with all types of invasive cancer. This disease causes loss of center vision that is required to see things that are straight ahead. There are no symptoms in the early stage of the disease. However, in the intermediate and late stages of the disease there is vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy: Diabetics may begin to experience vision impairment due to this disease. It is a result of diabetes and is caused when blood vessels in the retina change. Taking care of diabetes and controlling blood sugar can help to avoid this disease.
Glaucoma: This disease gradually reduces your peripheral vision. It has no early symptoms and therefore is called the “Silent Thief of Sight”. Glaucoma is one of the most common chronic eye diseases for seniors and is the leading cause of blindness for those over the age of 64. Half the people with glaucoma do not know they have it.
Cataracts: Cataracts cause cloudy vision as the lens of the eye begins to harden. Cataract surgery removes the old lens and inserts an artificial lends to restore vision.
If disease does strike and results in low vision we can help. We treat patients every day who have low vision due to eye diseases. Our goal is to enhance their vision with innovative medical devices and treatments, despite the fact that they may have been told that nothing more can be done to improve their vision. Take good care of your eyes, have regular eye exams and then call us if low vision begins to occur. We can help.