Information for the Public
Iowa Ophthalmologists are committed to education on eye diseases, injuries, infections, and vision correction. Let your Ophthalmologist help you learn to take care of your eyes at every age.
Beware the “Sneak Thief of Sight”
Throughout Glaucoma Awareness Month this January, the IAO reminds readers that glaucoma remains a leading cause of preventable blindness. Glaucoma affects more than 2.7 million Americans age 40 and older, and because it often has no early warning symptoms, half of all people with glaucoma do not yet know they have the disease. Because glaucoma can quietly damage vision if left untreated, it has earned the nickname of the “Sneak Thief of Sight.”
In the most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, vision loss is so slow that people are often not aware of it until it is too late. Pressure inside the eye (called intraocular pressure) is elevated but not high enough to be noticeable; this pressure pushes at the back of the eye on the optic nerve, creating irreparable damage. Without proper treatment to slow the nerve damage, open-angle glaucoma patients usually lose peripheral vision first, then may eventually go blind.
The good news? Knowing your risks for glaucoma and monitoring your eye health with regular visits to an ophthalmologist – a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions – can save your sight. The IAO recommends that all adults have a baseline, comprehensive dilated eye exam at least by age 40 — the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to happen. The exam, which includes an eye pressure check, may also require a visual field examination – as determined by an ophthalmologist. For seniors age 65 and older, the IAO recommends having a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years, or as directed by an ophthalmologist.
Some people are at greater risk for developing glaucoma and may need to see their ophthalmologist on a more frequent basis, specifically for glaucoma testing; risk factors for glaucoma include:
• Eye pressure level
• Older age
• Family history of glaucoma
• African ancestry or Latino/Hispanic ethnicity
• Thinner central cornea (the clear, front part of the eye covering the pupil and colored iris)
• Low blood pressure
• Type 2 diabetes mellitus
• Myopia (nearsightedness)
• Genetic mutations
Vision loss from glaucoma cannot be reversed, so early detection is critical. To learn more about glaucoma and how to keep your eyes healthy, visit geteyesmart.org.
Senior Eye Safety Includes Preventing Slips and Trips
Simple steps around the home can prevent eye injuries among seniors and other household members. When an elderly relative falls, the most common fear for family members is broken bones. But eye injuries can be just as serious and debilitating. Home is where most eye injuries occur, and slips and falls are among the most common type of home injuries. Slippery stairs, loose railings or sharp edges on furniture can lead to painful falls and devastating eye injuries for seniors, as well as children and other household members.
October is Eye Injury Prevention Month and the Iowa Academy of Ophthalmology (IAO) urges seniors and their caregivers to be especially aware of their home environment and take preventive steps to lessen their risk of eye injury.
Family members are often concerned about their elderly relatives falling. The most unexpected falls can cause the worst injuries. For the sake of your loved ones, take the proper precautions to help prevent dangerous and potentially blinding accidents in the home.
Consider taking these safety steps around the home to reduce the risks of injuring your eyes:
• Make sure that rugs and shower/bath/tub mats are slip-proof.
• Secure railings so that they are not loose,
• Cushion sharp corners and edges of furnishings and home fixtures.
If you or a loved one suffers an eye injury, have an ophthalmologist examine the injury as soon as possible, even if the injury seems minor. Eye injuries can lead to long-term eye health problems, including the development of glaucoma and cataracts.
Additional information regarding eye injury prevention and treatment can be found at www.geteyesmart.org.
Click on the following additional resources:
Vision Screening for Children
Iowa Ophthalmologists follow the policies of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and recommend timely screenings for the early detection and treatment of eye and vision problems in America’s children. This includes screening in the preschool years and at various intervals throughout elementary school. Many serious eye conditions, which can be found at screening, are treatable if identified during the preschool and early school-aged years and referral is made to an eye doctor at that time.
To find out about vision screening services in Iowa, see: