A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study has found that although 94 percent of Americans aged 12 and older have good vision, the remaining six percent, or 14 million, are visually impaired. Of these, more than 11 million have uncorrected visual impairment, such as nearsightedness. They need eyeglasses or contact lenses to improve their vision. Teenagers, people with diabetes, Hispanics, and people who are economically disadvantaged have higher rates of visual impairment and can most benefit from corrective lenses. This study is published in the May 10, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of vision research at NIH, said, “This study found that most people who have a visual impairment could achieve good vision with proper eyeglasses or contact lenses. So, if you have trouble seeing, you should get your eyes examined as soon as possible. It may be that corrective lenses will improve your vision. But, if you do have an eye disease, the sooner it is found, the more likely it is that treatment can help preserve your vision.”
The study authors made the following recommendations:
- Health care professionals should talk to their patients about the importance of eye health and encourage them to participate in routine vision screenings and eye examinations.
- People who already wear eyeglasses or contact lenses should return to their eye care professional for periodic eye examinations.
- Efforts to increase public awareness about the importance of routine eye examinations should be undertaken.
- Vision screening opportunities for the public should be expanded.