The annual Rare Disease Day will be observed on February 28, 2017.
Rare Disease Day was established as a day to bring awareness to rare diseases, which in the United States are defined as conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 people. Currently, a total of about 30 million Americans are affected by almost 7,000 rare diseases.
Patient advocacy organizations in the United States and around the world observe Rare Disease Day as an opportunity to bring recognition to rare diseases and to the people affected by them. The rarity of these diseases can make it difficult for affected individuals to receive an accurate diagnosis and proper care. The theme of Rare Disease Day 2017 is "Research," focusing on gaining an understanding of rare diseases and developing innovative treatments or cures. Rare Disease Day 2017 recognizes the importance of the partnership between the medical and patient communities to unraveling the complexities of rare diseases.
Age-related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Awareness Month is observed in February to promote eye health and improve the quality of life for individuals with vision disorders. Those with normal vision can use this opportunity to learn about recommended practices that maintain or improve eye health.
Approximately 61 million adults in the United States are at high risk for serious vision impairment. Vision impairment is defined as having 20/40 or worse vision in one or both eyes, even with the aid of corrective lenses. Vision problems increase with age, and many people over age 65 develop low vision, which is defined as 20/70 vision or worse in one or both eyes that is not correctable by lenses or surgery.
In 2010, approximately 3.4 million people in the United States over the age of 40 were visually impaired and 1.6 million people over the age of 50 had age-related macular degeneration, which is a common cause of vision impairment in older adults. It mainly affects central vision, which is needed for detailed tasks such as reading and driving.
Along with age-related macular degeneration, clouding of the lenses of the eyes (cataract), increased pressure within the eyes (glaucoma), and a breakdown of the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eyes caused by complications from diabetes (diabetic retinopathy) are the most common causes of vision impairment and low vision. Infections or trauma can also impair vision. Rare genetic eye disorders can cause vision impairment that is present at birth or worsens over time. Examples of genetic eye disorders that cause varying degrees of vision impairment include Fuchs endothelial dystrophy, Leber hereditary optic neuropathy, cone-rod dystrophy, Usher syndrome, aniridia, ocular albinism, and retinitis pigmentosa.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that half of all vision loss can be prevented. Eye exams and regular screening for signs of the major causes of vision impairment can provide the opportunity to begin treatment before long-term damage to the eyes is done.
Based on feedback from our users, we have updated the appearance, navigation, and selected features of Genetics Home Reference. Changes to the website include:
Redesigned home page for enhanced usability
Feature colors and icons that help distinguish the website's different content areas
A dynamic list of the website's new and updated content
Streamlined navigation of health condition, gene, and chromosome pages to make it easier to find information of interest
In-text links that improve navigation between related topics on Genetics Home Reference
Educational images from the NIH, CDC, and other sources integrated into health condition summaries
Improved browser printing
Acknowledgment of more than 200 support and advocacy groups for their feedback on website content
Improved usability on mobile devices
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