Free Vision Screenings Mark One-year Anniversary of Moran Eye Center Community Locations

Free Vision Screenings Mark One-year Anniversary of Moran Eye Center Community Locations

Nov 2, 2003 5:00 PM

One year after taking over management of six Wasatch-front optical shops and optometry practices, the University of Utah's Moran Eye Center is again using the locations to provide free vision screenings to the community (see dates and locations below). The screenings are open to all ages and will include a check of visual acuity (to determine severity of near or farsightedness), signs of glaucoma (using a non-contact puff-tonometer), and a brief undilated examination by an optometrist.

"Thousands of Utahns are blind or visually impaired from diseases that could have been prevented if caught early enough. Preschoolers, seniors, people with diabetes, as well as others at high risk for eye problems all need regular eye care. Too often they don't get it, and the result is preventable vision loss," according to Dr. Craig Smith, director of optometric services for the Moran Eye Center.

While no appointments are necessary for the screenings, wait times are expected to vary depending on day and location. Patients requiring follow-up care will be referred back to their normal eye-care provider for a full exam or will have the option to schedule an appointment with either a Moran Eye Center optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Smith says more than 3.5 million Americans over age 40 suffer from serious blindness and vision loss. Tens of millions more have been diagnosed with diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). He says those numbers are expected to double over the next 30 years as the Baby Boomer generation ages.

"One of the diseases we'll be screening for is glaucoma. It's often referred to as the 'silent thief of sight' because in many cases patients don't notice any symptoms until their vision is gone. Although there is no cure, the disease can be treated and vision loss prevented when diagnosed early," he said. Those at highest risk for the disease include patients of Hispanic and African descent who are over age 40, people with diabetes, and people with a family history of the eye disease.

The screenings also are designed to catch common childhood eye problems, such as strabismus (crossed eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye). "It's important to remember that age isn't the only risk factor for eye problems. Most childhood vision loss could be prevented if caught early enough," said Smith. Vision testing is recommended for all children starting at around age 3. In addition, he suggests that all people over the age of 65 have yearly eye exams.

For more information about the Moran Eye Center's free community vision screenings, patients can call the center at 801-581-2352 (toll free 1-877-248-2374), or visit www.moraneyecenter.org.

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