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Do you see just fine? Chances are, you don’t.

Published in Eye Care, For the Health of It, Ophthalmology/Optometry Author: Jessica Wentzell,OD

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 12 million Americans 40 years and over have vision impairment, yet two-thirds of them – 8 million people – are living with an uncorrected refractive error.

World Sight Day, which takes place in October each year, is an international day of awareness, held annually on the second Thursday of October. It’s coordinated by the International Agency for the

Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and highlights the fact that, worldwide, at least 1 billion people have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.

While most adults would agree that their vision is incredibly important and that blindness would severely impact their day to day life, few commit to scheduling an annual eye exam that could prevent future vision problems.

It’s estimated that nearly 40% of the U.S. population has myopia, or nearsightedness. As our population continues to age, that number is expected to increase over the next several years. Additionally, millions of people in the U.S. are living with eye conditions that increase their risk of sight loss, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.

Sadly, many people either put off their annual eye exam or have never had one. As an example, I recently saw a patient in her early 50's who had never had a comprehensive eye exam. She had been using over-the-counter reading glasses to make reading easier but decided to schedule her first eye exam when she began having trouble reading road signs while driving.

During a standard tonometry test, I detected slightly elevated inner eye pressure. Talking further with this patient, I found out she had a strong history of glaucoma, diabetes, and high blood pressure in her family - all risk factors for glaucoma. As a result of the exam, she not only went home with a new pair of eyeglasses, she now sees me regularly to monitor her vision and eye health.

The moral of the story, of course, is to schedule an annual eye exam, just like you would your annual physical. Carris Health offers eye exams at our New London, Willmar Skylark and Redwood Clinics.