Eye exams can save much more than vision

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Today we are going to talk about your eyes and how important they are to your health.

Some of this information will come from Bausch & Lomb, a company that produces products such as contact lenses, microscopes, binoculars, etc.

Recently the company conducted a survey covering 11,000 people in 11 different countries including the U.S. The survey found that too many people were negligent in having their eyes checked. Only 21 percent of folks had an eye exam in the previous five years.

Many folks gave as the reason for not having the exams was they had not experienced any vision problems. They thought that as long as they had clear vision they had nothing to worry about. Wrong conclusion.

Another interesting finding was that folks would rather lose their taste — 79 percent — a limb — 68 percent — hearing — 78 percent — or 10 years off their lives rather than losing their eyesight. It has been estimated that 80 percent of vision loss is preventable.

One eye specialist pointed out that folks would pay $100 a month for cable TV but not $100 every other year for a comprehensive eye exam. A careful eye check can find indications of heart trouble, diabetes or stroke risk.

Many older folks will develop what is called age related macular degeneration, aka AMD. The macula is a very light-sensitive area in the back of the eye, the retina. There are two types, dry or wet. The wet is the more dangerous kind. Especially as one grows older regular eye exams are important in order to catch macular degeneration early enough to treat it.

There are studies being done to determine if taking a supplement would help.

There is some evidence that doing that may delay the development of blindness from AMD. At this point it appears that people who have AMD should talk to their eye doctor before starting to take a supplement. An ordinary multivitamin will not help that much.

Those folks who can access YouTube should look for “The Barometer of Global Eye Health” and see a very informative and cute video.

Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent four years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 21/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.

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