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    Detecting Eye Diseases and Conditions

    As our population ages, vision loss from eye diseases is increasing.

    According to the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the CDC:

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    • About 3.3 to 4.1 million Americans ages 40 or older are blind or have low vision. This is about 1 in every 28 people. By 2020, that number could be 5.5 million -- a 60% increase.

    NEI has identified the most common eye diseases in people over age 40 as:

    To catch eye conditions early and help prevent vision loss, you should get a baseline eye exam when you are 40. If you are at high risk for an eye problem, yearly visits are recommended. If there are no issues, you should then see your doctor every 2 to 4 years until you are 54. Afterwards, visits should be more frequent - every 1 to three 3 years. By the time you reach 65, consider visits every 1 to 2 years.

    Here's what you should know about these threats to your eyesight.

    Your Eyes and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) damages, then destroys, central vision, your "straight-ahead," finely detailed vision. This eye disease takes two forms, dry and wet. About 90% of AMD cases are dry. The remaining 10% are wet, a more advanced form. Wet AMD is more damaging, causing about 90% of serious vision loss.

    Who's at Risk for AMD?

    Starting with the highest risk, people who:

    Symptoms of AMD

    AMD is painless. It may worsen slowly or rapidly. Dry AMD may affect central vision within a few years. Wet AMD can cause sudden and dramatic changes in vision. In either case, early detection and treatment are key to slowing vision loss. See your eye doctor right away if you notice:

    • Straight lines appearing wavy, a symptom of wet AMD
    • Blurred central vision, the most common dry AMD symptom
    • Trouble seeing things in the distance
    • Difficulty seeing details, like faces or words on a page
    • Dark or "blank" spots blocking your central vision
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