MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – May is Healthy Vision Month, and doctors at the West Virginia University Eye Institute are taking the opportunity to stress the importance of regular vision care.

Millions of Americans are threatened by common eye diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. Through early diagnosis, timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care, irreversible vision loss can often be prevented.

Approximately one in 25 young children has poor vision. Because of their age and level of development, children are often unable to tell their parents when a vision problem exists. Every child should have his or her vision checked by age three or four. If vision screening detects a problem in one or both eyes, a pediatric eye care specialist can often diagnose the issue and plan treatment before the problem progresses.

“The earlier treatment starts, the better the vision becomes when kids go to school and later grow into adults,” Geoffrey Bradford, M.D., WVU Healthcare pediatric ophthalmologist, said. “This is why it is important to not miss an eye examination if you or your pediatrician suspect a problem with your child’s eyesight.”

On the other end of the spectrum, glaucoma more commonly affects the elderly. The condition damages the optic nerve by causing increased pressure within the eye, interfering with the relaying of visual information from the retina to the brain.

“Glaucoma is the number one cause of preventable, irreversible blindness. Screening for glaucoma is easy and painless,” Kenneth Mitchell, M.D., WVU glaucoma specialist, said.

The WVU Eye Institute offers a full range of routine and complex eye care services, including subspecialty medical and surgical treatment, laser vision correction and comprehensive eye exams. It houses the Vision Research Center, where researchers are finding better ways to treat and cure eye diseases.

“We have the ability to make a real difference for the people of West Virginia,” Jennifer Sivak, M.D., WVU oculoplastic surgeon, said.

Healthy Vision Month is a national eye health observance established by the National Eye Institute (NEI) in 2003. Through Healthy Vision Month, NEI is increasing awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and treatment through outreach efforts aimed at the general public.

For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
rd: 05-01-12