According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States have vision impairment. The American Association of Ophthalmology (AAO) estimates that by age 65, one in three Americans will have a vision-impairing eye disease. The good news is that about half the annual cases of visual impairment and blindness can be prevented through early diagnosis and timely treatment.
These eye diseases can often begin in midlife, so the AAO recommends getting a baseline vision screening at age 40 and adding a vision screening to your annual health routine, even if you have no known symptoms or risk factors for eye disease.
According to the National Eye Institute, it is normal to notice changes in your vision as you age. Many people believe their eyesight is just fine, but when they get their first pair of glasses or contact lenses, everything from fine print to street signs comes into clearer view.
In addition to getting regular vision screenings, there are simple steps you can take to protect your eyes:
- Wear sunglasses.Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses — even on cloudy days! Be sure to look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation.
- Wear protective eyewear.Safety glasses, goggles, and face guards are designed to protect your eyes during certain activities, like playing sports, doing construction work, or doing home repairs. You can buy them from most eye care providers and some sporting goods stores. Visit the National Eye Institute Sport and Eye Safety webpage for tips on eye safety for kids.
- Give your eyes a rest.Looking at a computer for a long time can tire out your eyes. Rest your eyes by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- If you wear contacts, take steps to prevent eye infections. Always wash your hands before you put your contact lenses in or take them out. Be sure to disinfect your contact lenses and replace them regularly. Also replace your lens case at least once every 3 months.
For more information, visit the National Eye Institute Healthy Eyes webpage. Even if you are not experiencing vision problems, it is still important to speak with an eye care professional about a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Early detection and treatment can help save your sight.