Eye diseases and conditions leading to vision loss increase significantly with age, and the number of people with vision loss is expected to rise as the population grows older. To help older adults learn more about these conditions and vision loss, the NIHSeniorHealth Web site is adding five new topics on vision: glaucoma, cataract, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and low vision. Accurate, up-to-date information about these conditions is only a mouse click away at www.nihseniorhealth.gov.
Glaucoma, cataract, AMD, diabetic retinopathy, and low vision are common in older Americans. While glaucoma can strike anyone, the risk for this eye disease, which can damage the optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness, is much greater for people over age 60. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries done in the U.S. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. AMD, a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older, affects the part of the retina that allows you to see fine detail and blurs the sharp central vision needed for straight-ahead activities such as reading, sewing, and driving. One in every 12 people with diabetes age 40 and older has vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes and a leading cause of blindness. People age 65 and older, as well as African Americans and Hispanics over age 45, are at higher risk for low vision, which makes reading the mail, shopping, cooking, watching TV, and other everyday tasks difficult.
“Low vision and blindness can lead to loss of independence and reduced quality of life for older Americans,” says Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), which developed the content for the vision topics on the Web site. “Older Americans now can turn to NIHSeniorHealth to learn more about prevention, early detection, and treatment of eye diseases. The Web site’s special features, including various large-print type sizes, open-captioned videos, and an audio version, are especially useful to those who already suffer from vision loss.”
One of the fastest growing age groups using the Internet, older Americans increasingly turn to the World Wide Web for health information. In fact, 66 percent of “wired” seniors surf for health and medical information when they go online. NIHSeniorHealth, a joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), was designed especially with seniors in mind. The site, which is based on the latest research on cognition and aging, features short, easy-to-read segments of information. Additional topics coming soon include problems with taste and smell, stroke, osteoporosis, and falls. The site links to MedlinePlus, NLM’s premier, more detailed site for consumer health information.
The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The NLM, the world's largest library of the health sciences, creates and sponsors Web-based health information resources for the public and professionals. The NEI conducts and supports research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness. All three are components of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH)—The Nation's Medical Research Agency—is comprised of 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.