| Tue, Jan 21, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Resolution for 2014: Protect Your Eyes

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

glaucoma preventionHow are your 2014 resolutions to live healthier going? Here’s one more to add to the list: protect your eyes against glaucoma.

Step #1: Get Informed

Don’t know much about glaucoma? You’re not alone. Here are the basics of what you need to know.

  • Glaucoma is a disease that results when fluid builds up in your eye and damages your optic nerve.
  • Because the optic nerve is how your eyes tell your brain what it’s seeing, damage to it could mean loss of sight and eventual blindness.
  • Anyone can get glaucoma. But you may be at greater risk if:
    • You’re older than 60.
    • You’re Hispanic and older than 50.
    • You’re African-American and older than 40.
    • You have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
    • Someone in your family has glaucoma.
  • There’s no cure for glaucoma. Once you lose your vision, you can’t get it back.
  • Early on, glaucoma generally has no symptoms. So you may start to lose your eyesight before you know anything is wrong.
  • More than 2.7 million Americans have glaucoma. But an estimated half of those people don’t know it.1

Step #2: Take Action

The good news is that there are tests that can detect signs of glaucoma in its earlier stages. If you do have glaucoma, getting treated at an early stage could mean saving the sight you have left.

Medicare Part B (or Part C) covers a dilated eye exam to test for glaucoma every two years—and once every 12 months for people at high risk. The exam must be done or supervised by a doctor who is legally allowed to do the test in your state.

With Original Medicare, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the test. You may need to pay more if you haven’t yet met your Part B deductible for the year. You also may need to pay an office visit copay. Your costs with a Medicare Advantage plan will depend on the specific plan.

Step #3: Pass It On

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Help a friend by passing along information on glaucoma and the need to get tested early and regularly.

In addition to glaucoma screening, it’s important to have a complete eye exam every year or two after age 65. The exam checks for age-related eye diseases and other eye conditions. Original Medicare doesn’t cover routine eye exams. However, many Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement insurance plans offer this coverage. Read your specific plan benefits to learn what may be covered and the costs.

People who may need assistance with glaucoma screenings or other eye care costs can contact EyeCare America, which provides no- or low-cost eye exams to eligible seniors. EyeCare America is a program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

1Glaucoma Research Foundation. Educate yourself on glaucoma prevention and treatment by visiting this site.

Resources:

Medicare.gov: Learn more about Medicare vision coverage at the official U.S. government site for Medicare.

Medicare Made Clear: Find out what’s covered by Medicare Part B, and what’s not.

National Eye Institute: Learn more about eye health and what you can do from the National Institutes of Health.

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