Study Reveals Majority of Americans are not Taking Proper Steps to Care for the Health of Their Eyes

Research Shows Ethnic Minorities are Less Concerned about Eye Health – Placing Them at Even More of an Increased Risk of Certain Vision Conditions

 The results of recent, comprehensive research supported by Transitions Optical revealed that the majority of Americans are not taking the proper steps to care for the health of their eyes, and that awareness of both short- and long-term effects of UV exposure on vision is remarkably low. The results also indicated that overall awareness about eye health is even lower among certain ethnic groups, including Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans, who are already at an increased risk for a number of health-related issues – many that can impact vision.

Surprisingly, less than four out of 10 Americans reported visiting their eye doctor within the past 12 months. And Americans are not just neglecting to schedule eye exams for themselves – only four out of 10 parents have taken their children to an eye doctor within the past year. What’s more, Hispanics and Asian Americans are more likely than the general population to have never scheduled an appointment for their children. Because 80 percent of learning is through vision, it is especially important that children can see their best to perform well both in and out of the classroom.

While low concern and awareness of eye health is surprising among the general population, it is even more alarming among ethnic minorities such as Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans, who are more likely to develop serious eye and overall health issues that can take a toll on their vision. More specifically, both Hispanics and African Americans are often affected by overall health issues such as diabetes and hypertension, which have vision implications and can be detected through the eye, making regular, comprehensive eye exams even more important. Hispanics are also at higher risk for many eye health issues, including pterygia and glaucoma, as well as macular degeneration and cataracts, which have both been linked to UV exposure. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness among all African Americans, and they are also at higher risk for developing cataracts at a younger age. Asian Americans are more likely to develop angle-closure glaucoma and near-sightedness (myopia), as well as Type 2 diabetes, which can make them more susceptible to heightened damage from UV exposure, reduced contrast sensitivity and increased light sensitivity.

However despite this, the research revealed that two out of three respondents don’t know that their ethnicity could be putting them at higher risk for certain vision conditions.

Survey results also suggest that ethnic minority groups may not be taking adequate steps to protect their vision. For example, although Hispanics responded the most in-line with the general population, they were still more likely to believe that UV protection is only important in the spring and summer months, and were less likely to say that “eye health protection” is an important consideration when selecting eyewear.

While African Americans were the most likely to say they would schedule an eye exam if experiencing symptoms of vision problems such as near-sightedness or presbyopia (loss of ability to focus and see things up close), they were also the most likely to do nothing to protect their eyes from UV rays despite their increased risk of developing cataracts.

Despite research confirming that Asian Americans are at higher risk for developing near-sightedness, they were the least likely (six out of 10) to say they would make an eye appointment if having trouble seeing far away. They were not only the most likely demographic group to believe that UV protection is only important in the spring and summer months, but were also the most likely to believe that wearing eyeglasses can make their vision get worse.

“One of our constant goals at Transitions is to educate all consumers, regardless of ethnicity, about the importance of maintaining eye health,” said Dan McLean, marketing manager, communications, Transitions Optical. “This research shows that there is an even greater need to educate all populations and at-risk ethnic groups in particular, about how to take care of their eyes by getting regular, comprehensive eye exams and wearing proper UV-blocking eyewear all year-round.”

Because eye damage is cumulative, it is never too early or too late to start getting regular, comprehensive eye exams.

We carry Transitions Zeiss lens at wholesale costs here at KDT Optometry.

Computers are a blight for sore eyes

FACEBOOK and Twitter may be doing wonders for your online social life, but the amount of time spent keeping your eyes glued to the computer screen or your smartphone could have an adverse effect on your eyes, according to experts.

The increasing use of computers and cellphones may be good for technological advancement, it was having a negative impact on people’s eye health.

Dr. Truong has been seeing more people with strain-related eye problems such as blurred vision, eye fatigue, neck pains and headaches than ever before.

And young people were the most vulnerable.

Dr. Khoa Truong, an optometrist who owns KDT Optometry in San Diego, said he was seeing more patients with computer vision syndrome (CVS), a condition that was usually caused by extended and uninterrupted periods of focusing on a computer screen or television.

The temporary condition is characterised by dry, irritated and sometimes watery eyes, double or blurred vision, sore eyes, fatigue, light sensitivity and bloodshot eyes.

Medical experts estimate that the condition affects between 80 and 90 percent of people who spend three hours or more a day at a computer.

While the high-risk group used to be office workers, this trend is changing, with more young people reporting the syndrome symptoms.

And it looks like the easy access of internet and social networks on cellphones could be the cause of the upsurge.

“Alarmingly, I am finding these same problems in younger patients, more than likely due to the popularity of social sites like Facebook, Twitter and others, and the excessive time spent staring at computer monitors, smartphones and the like,” he said.

He pointed out that poor workplace conditions could contribute to the syndrome.

“When focusing on a fixed object, the normal blink reflex is not stimulated, and dry, uncomfortable red eyes are the result.

“Glare from artificial light reflecting off the computer monitor causes severe eye strain and the constant focusing of eyes without rest will cause fatigue and headaches,” he said.

After experiencing burning and sore eyes, short-sightedness and double vision, some patients go to an optometrist for a check-up.

Some comments Dr. Truong has heard include:

“Initially I thought that the short-sightedness was just ageing.

“It never really crossed my mind that computer use might have anything to do with the tiredness and irritability.

“When I was diagnosed with the syndrome I looked at the doctor, and I was like, what are you talking about… I didn’t know what the condition was all about,” he said.

While the syndrome was preventable and could be minimised by spending less time in front of a computer screen, treatment of this condition was available in a form of chemical lubricants such as natural tears or decongestants.

There was also homeopathic products that helped to relieve strained eye muscles.

The syndrome can also be minimised through minimal steps such as blinking more often, avoiding excessive bright light, adjusting or moving your monitor or tilting it, using computer reading glasses, and by taking frequent breaks away from your computer or cellphone.