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Eye Exams Encouraged for Adults Over Age 50

Author: St. Louis Society for Blind & Visually Impaired

Published: 2012-03-12 : (Rev. 2014-09-02)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Recommendation that all adults over age 50 schedule an eye examination because the incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and other vision problems is increasing.

Main Digest

St. Louis Society for Blind & Visually Impaired Encourages Eye Exams for Adults Over Age 50.

Enhances independence, empowers individuals and enriches the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired and their families. St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired provides the full range of Vision Rehabilitation Services to adults and Special Education services to school-age students. Services are available in both Illinois and Missouri and are provided at the Society's offices, in the home, community, place of employment or school.

St. Louis Society for the Blind & Visually Impaired is recommending that all adults over age 50 schedule an eye examination because the incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and other vision problems is increasing in metropolitan St. Louis and across Missouri.

David Ekin, ACSW, LCSW, President of the Society, said, "Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a silent destroyer. It is a disease among mature adults and older people that, if not addressed, slowly obliterates central vision. It is a major cause of vision loss in people who are age 60 and older. AMD sometimes advances so slowly that people don't notice much change in their vision while, in other people, it develops faster and can lead to vision loss in both eyes."

"According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the incidence of vision impairment is expanding among all racial and ethnic groups in Missouri, particularly among people who are older than 50 years," Ekin added."In Missouri, the incidence of Macular Degeneration is expected to nearly double in years ahead for people age 50 and older. AMD is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment among people aged 65 and older, according to The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group and many other sources," said Ekin.

"Locally, Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma and Cataracts and other primary causes of vision loss in older adults have led to more than 53,000 people age 65 and older in metro St. Louis reporting vision loss, according to recent data," Ekin said. "This scenario leads to health and safety issues, required assistance with daily activities, transportation needs, increased risk for injuries and dependence on family members or community services.

Ekin added, "There is significant need for Vision Rehabilitation Services to individuals under age 65 in metro St. Louis. Locally, almost 120,000 people ages 45 to 64 and 47,000 people ages 20 to 44 suffer from vision loss, data shows. When spouses, children and family members are included, nearly 670,000 local people are impacted by vision loss in these younger age groups. In total, almost 750,000 people in greater St. Louis - more than one in every four persons in the metro area - are affected by vision loss or by needing to assist persons with vision loss.

"We are troubled by the fact that serious vision problems are increasing in Missouri. The importance of early detection cannot be underestimated," said Ekin. "For thousands of people in greater St. Louis and southwestern Illinois, vision loss is taking social and economic tolls that often include increased risk for health and personal safety, disability, loss of productivity and diminished quality of life," Ekin said. "The Society is working to broaden our services to accommodate greater numbers of people who are visually impaired in metro St. Louis and in southwestern Illinois who visit our facilities, including our Drews Low Vision Clinic."

"We encourage the public to learn more about Missouri vision loss trends by visiting our facilities at 8770 Manchester Road in St. Louis, or by visiting the Society website or

Founded in 1911, the Society for the Blind & Visually Impaired enhances independence, empowers individuals and enriches the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired including children, adults, and their families. Its caring, qualified staff provides specialized vision rehabilitation, adaptive education, assistive technology and support services. The not-for-profit Society serves an increasing number of older adults who are newly visually impaired, blind or deaf-blind due to age-related eye conditions by providing home-based services, specialized agency services and community activities. It also provides support to school-age students at school districts in Illinois and Missouri, and at the Society.

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