More than 16 million Americans are affected by glaucoma or macular degeneration, two degenerative diseases that can lead to vision loss. According to AHAF, vision loss from these two diseases can be prevented or limited through early diagnosis. A regular, comprehensive eye exam with pupil dilation allows a doctor to examine the back of the eye for signs of eye disease before symptoms appear.
"Many people are unaware that they have these diseases until they start to experience symptoms, after irreversible vision loss may have occurred," says AHAF President and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller. "The good news is that with detection and treatment, eye doctors can often slow or stop the progression of these diseases and help protect against blindness."
Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness worldwide, has few or no symptoms in its early stages. Approximately 2.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, and another 2.8 million may have the disease without knowing it. Eye exams are essential for people who might be at high risk for glaucoma: African Americans older than 40; everyone older than 60, particularly Mexican-Americans; and people with a family history of the disease.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in industrialized nations. As many as 11 million Americans have the disease, and that number is expected to double over the next 4 decades. There are limited options for preventing or treating some forms of this disease, but treatments can slow or halt vision loss for many patients.
Through its campaign, AHAF asks people to visualize places or people they want to see and then protect their ability to continue seeing them by having an eye exam. The campaign features public service announcements for TV and radio; a photo contest; publications, videos, podcasts and other resources in both English and Spanish; healthy vision tips; a locator service to find an ophthalmologist or optometrist; free e-cards to remind loved ones to get an eye exam; and more.
Visit the See a Better Tomorrow campaign site for more information.