Seeing it to believe it

Studies show increase in visual issues

By Amy Barger -

PIQUA — Whether it wants to be seen or not, the facts remain – the number of age-related eye diseases and vision impairment is expected to double by 2030. There will be 2.5 million Ohioans who will be affected, costing Ohio $2 billion annually.

Some of what will be included in that cost is correcting visual complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 11 million Americans can improve their vision with proper refractive correction.

With more than 3.3 million Americans aged 40 and older legally blind or with poor vision, it bears the question as to what is causing the increase in these numbers. The answer is not easily obtained, for vision impairment varies greatly by race, ethnicity, and genetic make-up.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Stephen C. Koon shared what he sees in his patients who walk into his office located on Wayne Street in Piqua.

“Nearsightedness is increasing,” Koon said. “Nothing can be done to prevent nearsightedness at the present time; we don’t have an answer for that.” Koon stated all that can be done for nearsightedness is to correct through spectacles.

Cataracts are also increasing in Koon’s patients as more people are diagnosed with diabetes. He also sees an increase in age-related macular degeneration, assuming it correlates to a majority of the population maturing to the age at which the disease is most prevalent.

So, what can be done?

The CDC estimates that half of all visual impairments can be prevented, but symptoms do not show until after earlier stages of impairment, the stage at which intervention is most effective. Offered by most ophthalmologists, early screenings and testing can prevent blindness and visual impairment. Those at highest risk of blinding eye diseases include diabetics, African-Americans aged 40 and older, and senior citizens.

Children’s youth is often taken for granted and eye health is often low in priority when it comes to a child’s health. As children are pressured to meet higher expectations academically, this also increases the demand of their visual capabilities. Looking for problems with visual impairment at an early age may help children prevent bad vision in their adult lives.

With children increasing the use of computers in their education comes an increased risk of attracting Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which as a result, leaves children with vision-related problems such as blurred vision, eye strain, or headaches. The American Optometric Association (AOA) states the syndrome can lead to inadequate eye coordination, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia.

The following can help prevent CVS:

  • Placing computer screen four to five inches below eye level as measured from the center of the screen and 20-28 inches from the eyes.
  • Locating reference materials above the keyboard and below the monitor, or in a document holder beside the monitor to prevent excessive movement from screen.
  • Positioning the computer screen to avoid glare from overhead lighting or windows.
  • Adjusting seat position to allow feet to be flat on the floor.
  • To prevent eye strain, taking a break to rest your eyes will help. AOA suggests a 15-minute break after two hours of continuous computer use and every 20 minutes looking out into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes to refocus.
  • To alleviate the symptoms of dry eye, blink frequently to keep surface of the eyes moist.
Studies show increase in visual issues

By Amy Barger

Reach Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340.

Reach Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340.