Eye Diseases Are Rising Amongst the Elderly, But Few See Risk

The American Academy of Opthalmology finds that most Americans are unaware of the risks presented by age-related eye diseases, according to a health survey of 1,200 Americans. The populations most at risk for age related retinal diseases such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration are unaware of the factors that make them susceptible.

Conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, the survey finds that only 11 percent of Americans perceive themselves at risk for eye diseases. Only 10 percent believe they are personally at risk and more than a third do not receive annual eye examinations.

Additionally, only 15 percent of all respondents were able to identify half or more risk factors listed in the survey. Less than a quarter of Americans are very concerned about losing their vision and the majority feel weight issues or joint pain are more concerning. These age-related retinal diseases are expected to grow from 28 million today to 43 million by the year 2020 as the baby boomer generation continues to age in America.

 The American Academy of Opthamalmology is launching a public initiative called EyeSmart to educate the population about the risks of eye disease. The various risk factors for the diseases can include specific enthnic ancestry, smoking, obesity, or steroid use.

The vice president of the academy, Dr. Hoskins claims "The fact is that everyone is at risk. More than half of all Americans will have some form of eye disease as they get older. We believe that if Americans know their risks, they will take the steps necessary to maintain good eye health."


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