A recent study published online in the Journal of Ophthalmology concluded that older Americans have better eyesight than seniors of the past generation. An analysis of data collected from 1984 through 2012 show that in 1984, 23 percent of elders indicated poor eyesight made it difficult to read. By 2010, that number shrank to 9.7 percent. Additionally, better eyesight made it easier for seniors to dress, run errands and perform other normal activities.
The researchers suggest three probable reasons for the improved vision: better surgical techniques for cataracts; fewer smokers, which reduces risk for macular degeneration; and awareness and improved treatments for eye diseases related to diabetes.
In a release, the study’s lead author, Dr. Angelo Tanna, vice chairman of ophthalmology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, commented: “The findings are exciting, because they suggest that currently used diagnostic and screening tools and therapeutic interventions for various ophthalmic diseases are helping to prolong the vision of elderly Americans.”
The results also indicate that routine eye visits are important. And because many insurance plans allow an annual eye exam, vision care is more accessible and affordable than a generation ago.