(Family Features) The number of Americans 65 years of age and over continues to rise, according to the United States Census Bureau.
While many in this demographic are mindful of conditions like osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, a leading cause of vision loss is flying under the radar, according to survey results included in the Visionary Report from the eye care experts at Bausch + Lomb. The results of the report identify blind spots in Americans’ understanding and awareness of a stealth eyesight stealer: Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
AMD is a progressive eye condition that impacts central vision and is a leading cause of vision loss for those over age 50 and a leading cause of blindness for the 65-plus population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition impacts central vision and occurs when the macula – the part of the eye that controls sharp, straight-ahead vision – is damaged over time, causing people to have difficulty seeing faces, reading, driving or doing close-up work like cooking, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI).
Most notably, the survey of more than 2,000 adults in the United States, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Bausch + Lomb, found 81% of adults would be willing to give up $1 million or other comforts like listening to music if it meant never losing their eyesight. Despite this clear prioritization of the ability to see, only 37% of those surveyed over the age of 50 know AMD is a leading cause of vision loss for Americans.
Additionally, 62% of those surveyed who are 50 years of age and older are worried about losing their eyesight as they age, but true understanding of the condition is blurry as 61% aren’t aware a dilated eye exam is needed to diagnose AMD, and less than half are aware that vitamins or supplements may help reduce the risk of progression of AMD in some patients.
“As a practicing physician, I find the data in the Visionary Report alarming but also very helpful,” said Rishi Singh, M.D., staff physician, Cleveland Clinic Florida, and president, Cleveland Clinic Martin North and South Hospitals. “The findings underscore the need to take time to educate and empower aging Americans who are vulnerable to AMD and are clearly lacking a full understanding of the risk factors.”
While AMD can lead to blindness and does not yet have a cure, there are steps patients can take as part of a plan created with their doctors to reduce their risk of progression. Those steps include visiting an eye care professional for an annual dilated eye exam – the only way to diagnose and check the progression of AMD – quitting smoking, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet.
Patients should also talk to their doctors about taking a vitamin based on the AREDS2 study conducted by the NEI. Researchers tested and refined the AREDS formula for more than 20 years.
To learn more about the survey findings and the steps you can take to help protect your vision, visit SightMatters.com.
Source: Bausch + Lomb
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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