Eye Health FAQs


It is recommended that everyone get an eye exam every two years, but your eye doctor may recommend more frequent exams depending on your risk factors for certain diseases. People with diabetes should be examined annually.

Age is the greatest risk factor for macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma, especially in people over age 60. People with diabetes are also at a higher risk for eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.

Cataracts are a major cause of vision loss. Among Americans aged 40 years and older, 24.4 million have cataracts. Cataract removal surgery can restore vision, and this surgery is highly cost-effective; however, among African Americans, unoperated senile cataracts remain a cause of blindness. Possible risk factors other than age include diabetes, smoking, and prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Typical cataract symptoms include cloudy, fuzzy, foggy or filmy vision; changes in the perception of colors; problems with night driving due to bright headlights; problems with glare from lamps or the sun; double vision; and frequent changes in the eyeglass prescription.

Most people who develop cataracts are older than 60. People with diabetes and eye injuries can also develop cataracts. Certain medications, such as steroids, can cause cataracts as well. Smoking accelerates cataract formation.

Patients should discuss with their doctor the best treatment options for cataracts. If cataracts affect daily activities such as driving, working, housework, reading or cooking, surgery may be the best option.

Since the entire lens of the eye is removed during surgery, cataracts cannot return. However, many people experience the clouding of the lens capsule, which supports the replacement lens. This issue can develop months or years after surgery and cause vision problems similar to the original cataract. Treatment to correct this is called YAG laser capsulotomy.

An estimated half of visual impairment and blindness can be prevented through early diagnosis and timely treatment. Despite cost-effective treatment and eye preservation interventions, the number of potentially blinding eye diseases continues to escalate. Increased awareness can help. You can remind family members and friends at higher risk for eye diseases and vision loss to have their eyes examined regularly.

The prevalence of blindness and visual impairment increases with age in all racial and ethnic groups. Major eye diseases among people 40 years and older are age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age (ages 20–74) Americans. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. Efficacious and cost-effective interventions to detect and treat diabetic retinopathy are available. Individuals with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam each year, but only about two-thirds receive the recommended exam. Moreover, good management of diabetes by good glucose, blood pressure and lipid control can reduce the progression of diabetic retinopathy. People at risk for diabetes should modify their lifestyle to delay or prevent diabetes by good diet and physical activity.

DES occurs when your eyes chronically lack hydration. The tears in your eyes are responsible for keeping them feeling fresh and your vision clear. When your tear production is disrupted, or the quality of your tears is insufficient, your eyes may feel dry, irritated, itchy or watery. DES is most frequently a result of poor functioning of the glands in the eyelids, which produce essential oils for the tears.

There are several safe and effective treatments for dry eye syndrome. Treatment options will vary from patient to patient. Your doctor will select the treatment that targets the underlying cause of your condition. You may be prescribed medicated eye drops, lubricating eye drops, omega-3 supplements, or in-office treatments to clean and improve the functioning of the glands in your eyelids.