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Had Your Eyes Checked Lately?
Date:6/6/2009

Procrastinating on exams could put vision at risk, experts warn,,

SATURDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Though good vision is what allows the perception of the colors, shapes and sights of the world, Americans appear to be fairly lackadaisical when it comes to protecting their eye health, according to surveys done by U.S. eye groups.

People who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses constitute 81 percent of the population, according to a survey done by the American Optometric Association.

But one of every five of them hasn't seen an eye doctor or eye-care specialist in more than two years, the recommended period between eye checkups, the survey found.

It's even worse for people who don't use corrective lenses. Of that group, three of every five haven't had a vision exam in more than two years.

Doctors believe this is because most vision problems aren't readily apparent and because people have enough on their plates without also having to schedule an eye exam.

"We're getting pulled every which way these days," said Dr. Andrew Iwach, an associate clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, San Francisco, and a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "We're busy. For most of us, our vision is probably pretty good, we're getting along fine, and so we don't worry about it. And that comfort may lead to complacency."

A survey by the academy seems to support that belief. Only 28 percent of people surveyed felt they were at risk for any sort of eye disease, and just 23 percent said they were very concerned about losing their vision.

The problem with these perceptions is that most eye diseases come on subtly. Once someone recognizes vision loss, it's usually too late to have pursued many avenues of treatment, said Dr. Kerry Beebe, an optometrist in Brainerd, Minn., and a spokesman for the American Optometric Association.

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