In 2000, studies conducted by the Harvard Medical School found that more than one million Americans over the age of 40 are legally blind (Harvard Medical, The Aging Eye, 2000). The statistics are even more startling when one considers that while individuals age 80 and over only comprise about 8% of the population in the U.S., they make up more than 69% of the blind population. Fortunately, through regular annual eye exams many age-related problems can be prevented through early detection, or be treated to reduce further complications and vision loss.

 The most common visual problems after age 40 that can be detected and monitored simply during an annual visit to your eye doctor includes diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataract, and age-related macular degeneration. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to vision loss by leading to the growth of fragile blood vessels or damaging existing ones, causing them to break and leak into the parts of the eye’s used for vision. It is the leading cause of vision loss today amongst Americans in part because of its ability to develop in its early stages with no symptoms and no pain (National Eye Institute, Diabetic Retinopathy). During the comprehensive eye exam, optometrists at The Eye Works, Ltd. are able to diagnose diabetic retinopathy which all diabetics, both type 1 and type 2, are at risk of.

 Glaucoma can also lead to total or gradual vision loss by damaging the optic nerve, which is responsible for delivering images from the eyes to the brain. Like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma often develops in its earliest stages with no apparent symptoms. Although there is currently no known cure for the disease, by detecting it early on, doctors can often slow the characteristic vision loss through various treatment methods. Although everyone is at risk for developing glaucoma, studies show that certain groups, such as individuals who have family members with glaucoma, or individuals over the age of 60 are at a higher risk than others. The importance of regular visits to your eye care professional becomes apparent when considering that more than 50 percent of individuals with glaucoma are not even aware that they have it (Glaucoma Research Foundation, What is Glaucoma?).

 Annual eye exams help improve one’s vision not only through prescribed glasses and contacts, but also by safeguarding one’s eyes from vision loss to these very common diseases. The optometrists at The Eye Works, Ltd., Dr. Ralph Gebert and Dr. Anthony Prate, specialize in diagnosing and treating the types of complications that many unsuspecting individuals lose their vision to each year. We have two locations—in Barrington and Lake Zurich, and we have been providing quality eye care to the community for 30 years.

 To learn more about other age-related visual disorders, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, or to simply protect the health of your eyes, contact The Eye Works, Ltd. today to schedule an appointment.