Newswise – CHICAGO (September 1, 2022) – Whether it’s volunteering for a favorite cause, traveling for pleasure, or having more time to spend with family, for many Americans, getting older means having time to focus on the people and things they love the most. Unfortunately, aging can also lead to an increased risk of developing health problems ranging from cardiovascular disease to arthritis, as well as retinal diseases that can lead to vision loss and blindness, such as age-related macular degeneration. (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. Fortunately, older Americans can take simple steps to protect their vision, preserve their quality of life, and ensure they have access to the care they need if they are diagnosed with retinal disease.
During September’s Healthy Aging Month, the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) and its members encourage older Americans, their friends and family to learn the facts about retinal conditions that can cause sight loss as they age. as people age. Knowing the signs and symptoms of retinal diseases, incorporating retinal healthy habits, and confirming that specialized care and advanced treatments are available without delay through insurance plans can help protect and preserve vision .
“Take a few minutes to learn about the symptoms and risk factors associated with retinal disease and share this information with your friends. Spreading the word can really make a difference,” said ASRS President Philip J. Ferrone, MD, ASRS. “For example, seeing the occasional floater in your vision happens to all of us as we age, but any sudden appearance of floaters or an increase in the number of floaters means you should see a retina specialist immediately. Also, if you have a retinal condition and are making changes to your insurance, confirm that your new plan includes access to a retinal specialist and the treatments you would need to preserve your sight.
Consider these 4 simple actions to protect vision:
Learn the signs and symptoms of common retinal conditions in adults. AMD affects 11 million Americans and is the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans. Another retinal condition, diabetic retinopathy, is the leading cause of blindness in American working-age adults. The condition affects 7.7 million Americans, which is expected to double by 2050.
Characteristic symptoms of AMD include distortion (warping) of straight lines; a decrease in color intensity or brightness; gradual or sudden loss of central vision; and dark, blurry areas in the center of vision.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy to look out for include blurred central vision, spots, floaters, or shadow in the field of vision, difficulty reading, eye pressure, and difficulty perceiving colors.
Know your family history and other risk factors for retinal disease. Ask family members if they have had vision problems. Retinal conditions, including AMD, diabetic retinopathy, and even retinal detachments, can have an inherited genetic component. Other common risk factors for retinal disease include advanced age, smoking, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Make healthy retina habits a priority. People of all ages can maintain a healthy retina and reduce the risk of developing retinal conditions by:
- Stop smoking
- stay active
- Control blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol
- Eat nutritious foods, including dark leafy greens and fish
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get regular dilated retinal exams
Do your homework before signing up or changing health insurance plans. During open enrollment, October 15, 2022 through December 7, 2022, Medicare-eligible Americans can join, switch, or drop an Original Medicare Health Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan. Retina patients should consider several factors before enrolling or switching to a plan, including:
- Are all my doctors, hospitals, surgical centers, etc. accept my cover?
- Are my medications covered by the plan I am considering?
- Am I traveling to other parts of the country for long periods of time? Will I be able to see a doctor in these places?
- Have I talked to my doctors and pharmacists about the diet I’m considering?
- Are there reimbursable expenses for office visits, tests, procedures and/or medications?
- Does my insurer create barriers that interfere with my ability to receive doctor-administered medications, such as my eye injections of Eylea or Lucentis?
Consumers should also ask if an insurance plan requires prior authorization for any test or procedure or if it requires step therapy for any drug. “Fail First” step therapy is a policy that Medicare-eligible retina patients should be aware of, as it may affect a patient’s ability to receive treatment recommended by their retina specialist. Fortunately, Original Medicare does not allow step therapy.
Jack, a 99-year-old World War II veteran with AMD, has experienced first-hand “failure first” step therapy. Jack was still able to work, spend time with his grandchildren and use a computer, but his vision deteriorated significantly due to AMD. Despite his advanced age, his insurance company demanded step therapy and rejected calls from his retina specialist to administer specific medication by eye injection to treat his AMD. For three months, Jack had to “fail” with a less effective drug. His vision continued to deteriorate and he could no longer work or use the computer. Thankfully, once he “failed” on step therapy and received the originally prescribed medication, his vision cleared and he was preparing to celebrate his 100th birthday.e birthday.
Access resources on Medicare Open Enrollment and Step Therapy and research your options before making changes to your insurance that may affect your retina care.
For more information on maintaining retinal health for good vision and to find your retina specialist, visit www.SeeforaLifetime.org.
The American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) is the largest organization of retina specialists in the world, representing more than 3,000 physicians in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 63 countries. Retinal specialists are board-certified ophthalmologists who have completed additional training in the medical and surgical treatment of retinal diseases. The mission of the ASRS is to provide a collegial and open forum for education, to advance the understanding and treatment of vitreoretinal disease, and to enhance the ability of its members to provide the highest quality patient care. . The mission of the American Society of Retina Specialists Foundation, the charitable arm of the American Society of Retina Specialists, is to improve the quality of life for all people with retinal disease through the activities of education and awareness of retinal health and to support the education of retinal specialists. Learn more at ASRS.org. Like ASRS on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter for the latest information on retinal health.