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May - Ultraviolet Awareness Month

Currently, 4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older are visually impaired. Of these, 3 million have low vision.


By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, the number of Americans who have visual impairments is projected to reach 7.2 million, with 5 million having low vision.




What is Low Vision?


Low vision is when even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people still have difficulty seeing, which makes everyday tasks difficult to do. Activities that used to be simple like reading the mail, shopping, cooking, and writing can become challenging.


Most people with low vision are age 65 or older. The leading causes of vision loss in older adults are age related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma. Among younger people, vision loss is most often caused by inherited eye conditions, infectious and autoimmune eye diseases, or trauma. For people with low vision, maximizing their remaining sight is key to helping them continue to live safe, productive, and rewarding lives.


The first step is to seek help.


How many people have low vision?

Millions of Americans have low vision. About 135 million people around the world have low vision. In the United States, any person with vision that cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in the best eye, or who has 20 degrees or less of visual field remaining, is considered legally blind.

Visual impairments take many forms and exist in varying degrees. Visual acuity alone is not a good predictor of a person's vision problems. Someone with relatively good acuity (20/40) can have difficulty functioning, while someone with worse acuity (20/200) might not have any real problems performing daily activities.


How does Ultraviolet light affect the eyesight?


UV-A can hurt your central vision. It can damage the macula, a part of the retina at the back of your eye. UV-B can affect the front part of your eye (the cornea and the lens); absorption of these rays may cause even more damage to your eyes than UV-A rays. These rays are the leading cause for the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.


How can you protect your eyes?


The best way of protecting your eyes from UV rays is to wear tinted lenses. There are many available lens options. Traditional solid tints lenses with UV blocking properties is a common one. Photosensitive lenses are excellent for those who desire light adaptive lenses with the ability to lighten indoors. Polarized lenses are also available with glare reduction properties.


It is advisable to obtain a yearly dilated ocular health examination by either an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Early detection is key, and with some individuals, vision loss can be minimized.


Sources:

  1. https://www.glaucoma.org/news/february-is-low-vision-awareness-month.php

  2. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/low-vision

  3. https://www.preventblindness.org/how-can-uv-rays-damage-your-eyes




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