NetWellness is a global, community service providing quality, unbiased health information from our partner university faculty. NetWellness is commercial-free and does not accept advertising.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Of all the information relayed to the brain, 80% is visual in origin. Eye and vision disorders have broad implications in health care because of their potential for causing disability, suffering, and loss of productivity. Many symptoms are also associated with general health problems, such as hypertension and diabetes. Early detection and treatment of eye and vision disorders are essential to maintaining a person's total health and well-being.
Eye and vision disorders have an impact on the quality of life for patients in all age groups. In children and young adults, most problems are functional in nature. This means the eye itself may be healthy, but eyesight may be blurred, doubled, or uncomfortable as a result of poor focusing ability. In older adults, eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma are much more common, and these diseases can also cause poor eyesight and occasionally blindness.
Functional Vision Problems: The high prevalence of common eye and vision disorders underscores the importance of regular eye care. Conservative estimates suggest that 150 million Americans wear corrective lenses; and of these, more than 38 million ear contact lenses.
Presbyopia, the natural age-related loss of eye focusing ability for near tasks, usually begins between the ages of 38 and 45, and its prevalence is virtually 100 percent by ages 50-52 years.
Age-Related Eye Diseases: An estimated 42% of patients between the ages 52-64 have early lens opacities (cataracts), although only 5 percent experience visual impairment. However, by age 75-85, nearly everyone has developed some cataract formation. ith the aging of the US population, 0.1 million adults (40 years and older) are projected to have cataracts in the year 2020 - up from nearly 2 million at current estimates.
In addition, an estimated .3 million Americans age 40 and over currently have glaucoma. The risk of developing glaucoma increases significantly with age; and unfortunately, approximately half of all patients with glaucoma do not know they have it.
During aging, an area in the back of the eye known as the macula, may begin to break down, disrupting central vision. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). About 10 million people have early, intermediate or advanced AMD.
This article is a NetWellness exclusive.
Last Reviewed: Jul 16, 2009
Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO
Professor Emeritus of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University