Protecting Your Vision
Eye Exams Can Help Prevent One Half of All Blindness
April 6, 2010
Does it seem that print is getting smaller as you get older? Are your arms long enough to read the newspaper if you aren't wearing your glasses? When was the last time you got your eyes checked? Many seniors experience changes in eyesight and eye health. You can make sure your eyes remain healthy for as long as possible by eating a healthy diet, exercising, not smoking and wearing sunglasses.
The best way to prevent vision loss is through early detection and regular, comprehensive eye exams. According to the American Optometric Association, people age 60 and older should have a yearly eye exam and should seek immediate eye care if there are noticeable changes in their vision. However, lack of awareness of the value of preventive eye care, the cost of eye examinations and a lack of insurance keep many people from getting the treatment they need to prevent eye disease, according to Prevent Blindness Ohio.
Nearly 150,000 Ohioans currently suffer from visual impairment, and more than 43,000 are blind. Half of all blindness is preventable, yet as the population ages, the incidence of visual impairment and blindness continues to grow in Ohio. In fact, the number of Ohioans with visual impairment is expected to double by 2030. Many thousands more face the quality of life and economic issues associated with specific aging eye diseases.
The primary causes of vision loss are undetected eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Many eye diseases, including those associated with diabetes and age do not exhibit any initial symptoms before vision loss occurs and are only detectable through regular eye exams.
Don't let a lack of funds or insurance put your vision in danger. Less than half of eligible Ohioans are aware that Medicare will cover medical eye care expenses. The "Welcome to Medicare" physical includes screening for glaucoma. The glaucoma medical benefit qualifies many people for 80 percent coverage of the doctor's screening fee. This includes people with diabetes who are at a higher risk for diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts. Medicare even has cataract surgery benefits.
You can call the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program at 1-800-686-1578 to talk with a trained representative about Medicare and what it covers.
Some organizations, such as Vision USA-Ohio Optometric Association (1-800-766-4466), the Opticians Association of Ohio (1-800-661-5367) and EyeCare America (1-800-222-3937) provide free eye exams, glasses and surgical care to eligible individuals. Ohio Lions Clubs (614-539-5060) may be able to provide free or reduced cost eye care, glasses and low vision aids. Prevent Blindness Ohio (1-800-301-2020), through its vision care outreach programs, provides access to comprehensive donated eye exams, glasses and aftercare for those who qualify.
Don't let a preventable eye disease rob you of your sight or your quality of life.
Barbara E. Riley
About Aging Issues
Twice each month, the Ohio Department of Aging delivers Aging Issues, a column from Director Barbara E. Riley that examines topics of interest to older Ohioans, their family members and others who care for and serve them. Aging Issues is intended for personal use as well as re-publication in newspapers, newsletters and other publications with older adults as a target audience.
Subscribe to Aging Issues...
Read older columns...
Send this page to a friend …