Did you know that the estimated economic burden of vision loss, vision disorders, and eye diseases in America reaches a staggering $139 billion?
According to data released by the National Eye Institute, it’s clear to see that vision conditions and problems affect millions of people across America. The top five major eye diseases are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and refractive errors. These conditions affect close to 50 million people in the U.S. – that’s almost a fifth of the entire American population!
So is there something people can do about these eye-related problems? Yes.
The first step to dealing with eye-related problems is to be informed and aware of eye anatomy. We don’t mean going into the fine details of how everything works, but is important to understand the structure of the eye and all the associated parts of the eye so that you can talk to your doctor and understand exactly what they are saying regarding eye health. This is especially true for people who suffer from diabetes and need to monitor the pressure in their eyes so that it doesn’t damage the optic nerve which may lead to blindness.
Once you’re keyed in about the eye, it’s time to take a look at the top five most common eye problems.
1.Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration affects more than 2.1 million Americans, with the said number of affected expected to go up to 3.7 million by 2030*.
There’s really nothing you can do about macular degeneration because it’s age-related. You can’t stop it from happening, but you can slow down the process. You do this by being aware of your diet, watching what you eat, and being careful not to overstrain the eyes especially if you work at your computer for long periods of time.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of low vision with more than 2.7 million Americans affected by this eye condition and 4.3 million more expected to suffer from it by 2030*.
Glaucoma is characterized by a slow vision loss. There are two types of glaucoma – open-angle and angle-closure. Open-angle glaucoma exhibits no tell-tale symptoms except for a slow vision loss, whereas angle-closure glaucoma requires immediate medical attention because of the sudden acute eye pain accompanied by nausea and the inability to see clearly.
According to Mayo Clinic, glaucoma affects those who are 40 years and above the most. Treatment is available but there is no cure for this eye ailment. Medical diagnosis is required to be certain of glaucoma.
3. Diabetic Retinopathy
7.7 million Americans suffer from diabetic retinopathy*. When one is diabetic they have to monitor their eyes carefully because diabetes and eye conditions go hand-in-hand.
When blood vessels in the retina (tissue that makes up the back parts of the eye) is damaged this leads to a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. It’s termed ‘diabetic’ because it is often associated with poorly controlled sugar levels among diabetes patients. Blurry vision and floaters are common symptoms.
There is no cure for this ailment only treatment options when caught in time. This is a chronic condition and is often lifelong for most people.
Cataracts are by far the largest single sole eye disease that affects and blinds the biggest group of people. Today, there are currently 24 million Americans suffering from cataracts and this figure is estimated that it will go up to 38.7 million people by 2030*.
Cataracts are cloudy formations of the eye lens. They are simply proteins that clump together within the eye’s lens. There is no explanation as to why this happens. Fortunately, cataracts are treatable by surgery. This involves the removal of the affected lens and implantation of an intra-ocular lens.
5. Refractive Errors
Refractive errors are the leading reason why people wear spectacles. Refractive errors lead to people either being nearsighted or farsighted. 34.1 million Americans are nearsighted, and 14.1 million people are farsighted*.
Refractive errors are corrected through the use of glasses and or contact lenses which can help restore 20/20 vision. Laser surgery is an elective process for those who wish to improve their eye sight without using glasses. Discuss with your eye doctor to find out if this option is available to you.
Eye Conditions Can Be Treatable
It’s not the end of the world if you find yourself struggling to see. Understand that it might be because of an eye condition that’s completely treatable or simply a sign of old age. You can slow down the process and you can get glasses to improve. Be sure to see a doctor when you first start showing symptoms.