Eye and vision disorders have the potential to cause decreased quality of life and loss of independence.  Many eye and vision disorders are chronic conditions that can affect individuals for their entire lives. More than 3.4 million Americans 40 years and older are either legally blind or have vision impairment and millions more are at risk of developing visual impairment or blindness. It is estimated that at least 40 percent of vision loss in the United States is either preventable or treatable with timely intervention, yet many people are undiagnosed and untreated.  Potentially blinding conditions such as glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms until they are advanced and the ocular damage is irreparable.

Since changes in visual function often develop gradually, their effect on performance may not be readily apparent.  Normal age-related changes in visual function and ocular structures, along with increased prevalence of disease with age, make comprehensive eye exams particularly important for older adults. Refractive errors, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma all affect visual function and can lead to difficulty with balance, walking, watching television, driving, and reading, and often create social isolation.  Early detection and treatment of these conditions can lead to significantly improved quality of life. Many individuals do not seek regular eye care and therefore may be unaware they have a sight-threatening eye condition due to a lack of early symptoms.  The comprehensive eye examination performed in-person by an eye doctor provides the means to evaluate the function and health of the eyes and visual system, and any ocular manifestations of systemic disease. It is an important part of preventive health care and serves as a key component in maintaining good vision and optimal eye health.  Annual comprehensive eye examinations provide the opportunity for early detection of eye health and visual performance problems. They also provide the opportunity for prevention of vision loss. This results in improved visual and overall function, as well as improved health-related quality of life.  A vision screening given during a general physical examination or at the RMV is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye examination.