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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 1, 2013

NIH encourages Americans to make vision a priority during Healthy Vision Month

Statement from National Eye Institute Director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D.

In May, Healthy Vision Month, the National Eye Institute (NEI) calls on Americans to make their vision a priority by taking the necessary steps to protect vision, prevent vision loss, and make the most of the vision they may have remaining.

An eye care professional applies eye drops to dilate a personís eyes.

Approximately 38 million Americans over age 40 have glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, or cataracts. That number is projected to rise to 56 million by the year 2030. Early detection and treatment of eye diseases are crucial to preserving sight. There are often no warning signs or pain in the early stages of many eye diseases, therefore having good vision can be something people take for granted. By the time people realize they are losing vision, it may be too late to restore vision already lost.

The best way to care for your eyes is by having a comprehensive dilated eye exam. During this exam, drops are placed in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupils. This procedure can detect vision problems and determine whether you need eye glasses or contact lenses. It can also detect eye diseases, many of which cause visual impairment and blindness, in their early stages when they’re the most treatable.

Preventing eye injuries is also important. Many occupations and forms of recreation can present dangers to the eye. Eye protection is a necessity when our jobs put our eyes at risk. It is estimated that wearing protective eyewear when playing sports can cut down on related eye injuries by as much as 90 percent. Wearing eye protection when working in the yard will also lower the number of those who experience serious eye trauma.

NEI conducts and supports research of blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, and mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems and requirements of the visually impaired. Our national investment in vision research has yielded substantial dividends in the form of new and innovative treatment for millions of Americans. Detecting eye disease and problems early allow individuals to benefit from the advances made in vision research.

To learn more about keeping eyes healthy, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes. To learn more about Healthy Vision Month and to access resources for promoting the observance, such as prewritten Facebook posts and tweets, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov/hvm.

Media Resources: B-roll with eye examinations is available by calling 301-496-5248. Simulations of visual impairments and other images are available in downloadable, camera-ready format on the NEI website at http://www.nei.nih.gov/photo. For more information and resources, see http://www.nei.nih.gov/pressroom/hvm.

About Healthy Vision Month: May is Healthy Vision Month, a national eye health observance established by the National Eye Institute in May 2003. Millions of people living in the United States have undetected vision problems, eye diseases, and conditions, and the observance is designed to elevate vision as a health priority for the nation by promoting the importance of early detection and treatment, as well as the use of proper eye safety practices, in preventing vision loss and blindness. For more information about Healthy Vision Month, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov/hvm.

About the National Eye Institute: The National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, leads the federal government's research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs that result in the development of sight-saving treatments. For more information, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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This page last reviewed on March 10, 2014

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