When you consider that the sense of sight is the most heavily relied upon of the five human senses, it is a wonder that it is also one of the most neglected assets in the human body.
A recent survey found that almost half of the American adults surveyed worried more about going blind than other ailments and injuries, and yet 30 percent of the respondents admitted that they had not had their eyes checked.
It becomes easier to see why eyesight is so severely neglected when you realize that, apart from more common complaints such as tiredness and eye strain, the human eye does not generally hurt or cause pain when there is a problem.
Why are regular eye exams important?
Coupled with the fact that the eye does not give off a “pain alert” as problems develop, one of the most common long-term eyesight problems generally occurs gradually, so we often fail to notice it until well after the onset.
Statistics show that forty percent of the American population requires vision correction – either glasses or contact lenses. The most common problem is nearsightedness (myopia), which means that distant objects become harder to see clearly with the unaided eye.
The fact that such a large proportion of the population requires correction or assistance with their vision makes a routine of eye care so much more important.
Medical Optometry America explains the difference between eye examinations and vision tests and points out that more general vision tests may fail to identify the presence of serious eye problems and eye diseases. This makes regular eye exams vitally important.
Are some people more prone to eye disease than others?
Certain races and ethnic groups tend to be more prone to developing certain serious eye diseases than others. Glaucoma, a condition that leads to damage to the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain, tends to be more prevalent amongst African-Caribbean communities.
People from south-east Asian communities may be more prone to the development of eye problems related to diabetes.
Older people – especially the over 60’s – and anybody with a family history of eye disease should be aware of the increased possibility of eye disease and seek regular check-ups with a good eye doctor.
Can smoking or drinking affect eye health?
It comes as a surprise to many to learn that both smoking and heavy drinking can potentially impact eye health.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition of sight loss affecting the middle part of the eye, making things like reading and recognizing people’s faces extremely difficult. It’s been linked to smoking, high blood pressure, and being overweight and worsens if left untreated.
Heavy drinking may also result in the early onset of AMD.
Smokers also tend to be more prone to developing smoky or misty patches in the eye called cataracts, which also affect vision.
Early detection, a small correction
When considering eye health, the old saying “Prevention is better than cure” holds true. Vision correction, general eye problems, and diseases are all treatable, and taking the time out to look after one of the body’s hardest-working assets will pay off big time in the long run.