(BPT) - Older people are at heightened risk for vision loss due to age-related eye disorders. In fact, one out of every six Americans age 65 and older has a vision impairment that cannot be improved by glasses or contact lenses.
This sight loss can lead to increased dependence on loved ones and caregivers. It can also lead to depression, isolation and preventable injuries such as falling and car accidents. But, regular comprehensive eye exams with an ophthalmologist - a physician that specializes in medical and surgical eye care - can help protect their sight and help them hold on to their independence.
'Just because a person is growing older does not mean they have to lose their vision,' said ophthalmologist Charles P. Wilkinson, M.D., chair of EyeCare America. EyeCare America is a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The program matches qualifying seniors with volunteer ophthalmologists who can provide eye exams and up to one year of care often at no out-of-pocket cost.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults age 65 and over have comprehensive eye exams every one to two years, or as recommended by their ophthalmologist. During the exam, an ophthalmologist will check for more than how well a person sees. He or she will also check for important beginning signs of common age-related and potentially blinding eye diseases. These include diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. These conditions can have no noticeable symptoms early on, unless detected through a comprehensive eye exam. The exam can also uncover signs of systemic diseases that affect the eyes, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. If caught early enough, these conditions can often be successfully treated.
'Detecting and treating eye problems early can make all the difference in saving peoples' vision and their independence,' said Dr. Wilkinson.
Give the gift of sight this holiday season. Visit www.eyecareamerica.org to see if you or a loved one qualifies. More than 6,000 Academy member ophthalmologists nationwide volunteer for EyeCare America. It is one of the largest public service programs in American medicine.