Eye screens help preserve vision

If you are age 40 or older and have not had a recent eye disease screening, ophthalmologists recommend you make an appointment for an eye exam. It is an essential step toward preserving vision and keeping eyes healthy and there is no better time than February’s Save Your Vision Month.

By 2020, 43 million Americans will be at risk for significant vision loss or blindness from age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration, an increase of more than 50 percent over the current number of Americans with these diseases. Despite the statistics, most adults are more concerned about weight gain or back pain than they are about vision loss.

“Unfortunately, most Minnesotans are not familiar with their risks for eye disease,” said Dr. Richard Johnston, president of the Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology. “Knowing your risks and getting regular exams can save your sight.”

Johnston recommends adults get a baseline eye exam at the age of 40, which is when early signs of eye disease and changes in vision may first occur. Based on the results of the initial screening, an ophthalmologist will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams.

If you have a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s best to ask an ophthalmologist how often your eyes should be examined.

The Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following eye disease screening schedule:
•Age 65 or older, every one to two years
•55–64, every one to three years
•40–54, every two to four years
•Under 40, five to 10 years

“One reason comprehensive eye exams are important is that many patients will have no recognizable symptoms of vision loss,” says Johnston. “But it is important to identify, monitor and treat eye disease early.”

In addition to eye exams, consumers are encouraged to learn more about eye health and eye disease. The Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology invites Minnesotans to visit www.MNEyeMD.org for accurate eye health information.

Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology at a glance
•The Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology (MAO) is the state association of eye physicians and surgeons (eye M.D.s) with more than 280 members statewide.

•The members of the MAO are committed to preserving the sight of Minnesotans through regular screening exams and by providing care for all eye diseases and injuries.

•The MAO encourages consumers to be aware of the different education levels of opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists (eye M.D.s) are the only eye care specialists who are graduates of medical school. Eye M.D.s treat eye diseases and injuries, perform eye surgery and are the only health providers who can advise patients on all vision-related issues. To learn more, or to find an ophthalmologist, visit www.MNEyeMD.org.