Healthy Living

Do you see what I see? Depends where you live

Florida has Disney World, all those great beaches… and the country’s highest incidence of cataracts. (It’s also #2 in diabetic retinopathy.)

Truth be told, those unwelcome statistics are likely more an outcome of the state’s large silver-haired population than the climate or lifestyle. And living in a state with a high prevalence of any vision impairment or disease doesn’t necessarily put you at a higher risk.

Still, vision problems can affect anyone, no matter where you live, so it makes sense to be aware of some of the most common types and their symptoms. For those keeping score, keep reading for the top 5 states for each vision problem.

Cataracts

A cataract limits the amount of light that passes through the lens of your eye and is often described as a clouding of the lens. While most cataracts are age-related, researchers say smoking and diabetes can also cause them. Symptoms vary based on the type of cataract and can go unnoticed until your vision has been significantly impacted. The most distinctive symptom is cloudy or blurry vision.

1. Florida, 2. North Dakota, 3. Iowa, 4. South Dakota, 5. Pennsylvania

Age-related macular degeneration

AMD is most prevalent in people 50 and older and is a leading cause of blindness. The most common symptom is a blurred area in the center of your vision. As the condition progresses, the blurred area may get larger or it may become a blank spot. Age is the major risk factor, but smoking, diet and genetics can play a role, too.

1. North Dakota, 2. Iowa, 3. South Dakota, 4. Rhode Island, 5. Nebraska

Glaucoma

Glaucoma causes permanent damage to the optic nerve, leading to a gradual loss of your peripheral vision. As the disease progresses, the vision loss works its way toward the central vision and, if left untreated, leads to blindness. Unfortunately, because of its slow progression and the loss of peripheral vision, glaucoma can go unnoticed until it’s too late.

There’s no cure for glaucoma, but when it’s diagnosed early, treatment can slow and possibly prevent it from progressing.

1. District of Columbia, 2. Hawaii, 3. Mississippi, 4. Louisiana, 5. Maryland

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy affects people with diabetes and damages retinal blood vessels, causing them to bleed or leak fluid, which can cause vision loss and blindness. In the early stages, it’s common for patients to have no symptoms. Those who do experience symptoms report the appearance of “floating” spots caused by bleeding from retinal blood vessels. While these spots may go away on their own, if left untreated, the bleeding will likely happen again. The longer diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, the higher the risk of permanent vision loss.

1. New Mexico, 2. Florida, 3. Texas, 4. California, 5. Arizona

“Many eye conditions go undetected in their early stages, so it’s important to visit your eye doctor annually to check for these and other conditions,” advises Amy Marko, senior vice president of dental and vision provider relations and product development at Starmount, a leading vision insurance company.

“In most cases, if caught early, there are treatments your eye doctor can recommend or perform to help save your sight.”

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