Healthy Vision Month
May is Healthy Vision Month, a national eye health observance.
Balintfy: The goal of Healthy Vision Month is to promote the importance of getting eye exams.
Dr. Clayton: It's critical to get a complete eye exam.
Balintfy: Dr. Janine Austin Clayton is an ophthalmologist and deputy director of NIH's Office of Research on Women's Health. She says a comprehensive dilated eye exam involves looking at all the parts of the eye. It also tests eye movement, reaction to light and the fluid pressure inside.
Dr. Clayton: Just because you don't have any problems seeing or other discomfort in your eye or pain, doesn't mean you're not having an eye problem. Without a complete eye exam that also involves checking the eye pressure, which is one of the screening tests for glaucoma, you cannot be sure that your eyes are healthy.
Balintfy: Dr. Clayton adds that eye health is a reflection of overall health. For example, sometimes diabetes can be diagnosis from changes in the eye. She also points out that refractive error, like nearsightedness or farsightedness, is a very common problem that affects about 14 million Americans.
Dr. Clayton: That's a very prevalent condition, and importantly, though, even though there are so many Americans affected, about 11 million Americans can have that improved by proper correction, either with glasses, contact lenses, refracted surgery or some other refracted modality that corrects that, and they can get good vision from that.
Balintfy: All too often, people don't have their eye examined until they start noticing problems with their vision. Having regular eye exams can help detect diseases in their early stages, when they can still be treated.
Dr. Clayton: The eye is certainly the window to the soul, the eye is the window to your health, and it's a really, really critical part of the overall health and people need to take that into consideration as they're thinking about their overall health. You know, you get your physical, you need to get your eye exam.
Balintfy: How often to have your eyes examined depends on age, family history and other risk factors. For more information about eye health, visit www.nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes. This is Joe Balintfy, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Janine Austin Clayton
Topic: vision, eye health