NEW YORK (CBS 2) — More than eight out of 10 Americans fear losing their vision — more than any other sense, according to a recent Harris survey. Yet, the vast majority of those people don’t take the one simple step that could keep them from losing their eyesight.
This is especially important as baby boomers are moving into the age group where vision problems are more common — problems that can lead to significant loss of eyesight and even blindness.
The good news is that most of that can be prevented simply with an annual eye exam.
“What now I have is advanced glaucoma,” Arthur Poggi said. “I really have no peripheral vision. I can see a face but it’s hazy and beyond that I really can’t see.”
What makes Poggi’s story really heartbreaking is that his blindness was preventable.
“The doctor detected glaucoma and they had given me a medicine to take — I think it was Timoptic at the time,” Poggi said. “I neglected it because we all thing we’re superhuman.”
Simple eye drops probably could have prevented Poggi’s glaucoma from irreversibly damaging his optic nerve. The lesson here is that an eye exam can find treatable eye problems — ones that you may not even be aware of.
“There are many eye problems which we call insidious because they’re very slowly progressing and you actually don’t k now you’re getting, in some instances, irreversible vision loss,” Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, of Lighthouse International, said.
“In many instances one eye may actually mask losing vision in the second eye, so they don’t actually realize they are having a serious vision loss,” Dr. Rosenthal said.
Dr. Rosenthal recommends an eye exam before children start school, when they go off to college and then annually after age 40, when vision problems become more common.
Dr. Rosenthal recommends starting even earlier if you have a family history of glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetes.
Poggi hopes others learn from his mistakes.
“I would be able to drive a car and do all the things that I could have normally done,” Poggi said. “Now I can’t even read a newspaper.”
Poggi said that Lighthouse International helped him get his life back — they got him the low vision aids he needed, taught him to function with his disability and gave him the self-confidence to start a food import business.