(Family Features) The number of Americans 65 and older continues to rise, according to the United States Census Bureau.
While many in this demographic are aware of conditions such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, one of the leading causes of vision loss goes unnoticed, according to survey results included in the visionary report from the eye care experts at Bausch + Lomb. The report’s findings identify blind spots in Americans’ understanding and awareness of a stealth vision thief: age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is a progressive eye condition that affects central vision and is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 50 and a leading cause of blindness in people over 65, 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 vision – is damaged over time, making it difficult for people to see faces, read, drive or do near 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 that 81% of adults would be willing to give up $1 million or more. other comforts like listening to music if it meant never losing your sight. Despite this clear prioritization of the ability to see, only 37% of respondents over the age of 50 know that AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans.
In addition, 62% of respondents aged 50 and over fear losing their sight as they age, but the true understanding of the disease is unclear, as 61% do not know that a dilated eye exam is necessary to diagnose AMD, and less than half know that vitamins or supplements can help reduce the risk of AMD progression in some patients.
“As a practicing physician, I find the Visionary Report data alarming but also very helpful,” said Rishi Singh, MD, staff physician, Cleveland Clinic Florida, and president, Cleveland Clinic Martin North and South Hospitals. “The findings underscore the need to take the time to educate and empower aging Americans who are vulnerable to AMD and who clearly lack a full understanding of the risk factors.”
Although 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. These steps include visiting an eye care professional for an annual dilation eye exam – the only way to diagnose and check the progression of AMD – quitting smoking, exercising regularly and to maintain a healthy diet.
Patients should also talk to their doctor about taking a vitamin based on the NEI’s AREDS2 study. Researchers have tested and refined the AREDS formula for over 20 years.
To learn more about the survey results and the steps you can take to help protect your vision, visit SightMatters.com.
Source: Bausch + Lomb
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