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July 2020


1 Simple Strategy Saves Sight as You Age

The trip requires time off from work or other activities. You may have to wait. And the TV isn’t always tuned to your favorite station.

Sure, the eye doctor’s office may not be fun. However, there’s good reason to keep that appointment.

If you have the eye disease known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD, missing even a single visit can worsen your vision, a new study finds. And if your eyes are healthy now, regular exams can help keep them that way.

The cost of missed visits

Many conditions can contribute to vision loss. For people 50 and older, AMD is the leading cause. Your central vision blurs and you may see blank spots, making it hard to read, drive, or see faces.

You’re more likely to develop AMD if you:

  • Smoke

  • Are 50 or older

  • Have high blood pressure

  • Have a family history of the condition

Sometimes, AMD occurs because new blood vessels grow in the back of your eye. This is called wet AMD. Treatment usually involves monthly injections at the doctor’s office. Patients receiving these shots were a focus of the new study.

Those who made all their monthly doctor’s visits had the best chance of preserving their vision over a two-year period. But those who averaged between 36 and 60 days instead lost the ability to see the eye chart, to the tune of 6.1 letters. Those who waited 60 days or more lost 12.5 letters.

Make appointments routine

Even if you don’t have AMD, having a dilated eye exam—where the doctor looks inside your eye for hidden problems—is the best step for your eye health. After age 60, schedule this exam once every year or two.

If your doctor’s office has an online scheduling system, use it. You may find it easier to remember and show up for your appointments. Another option? Book your next visit when you’re leaving the previous one, so you don’t forget.


Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2020
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