Even if you think you see perfectly, get your eyes checked

One day last year, a 43-year-old man came into my office. He had always seen perfectly and had never had an eye exam. “Never needed one,” he said.

Though his vision was still clear, something seemed a little “off” so he came in to have it checked.

His vision was, indeed, perfect without glasses. But doing the eye health examination and looking inside his eyes, I discovered a huge tumor that took up about a third of the inside of one eye.

He had to have his eye removed about three weeks later. The surgeons were worried that his aggressive tumor would kill him if the eye was not removed.

Unfortunately, I see patients all the time who do not get their eyes examined yearly. Just because you can see clearly does not mean your eyes are healthy. There are many eye diseases such as cancer, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease that can be blinding or deadly, and they do not affect your vision until the end stages.

Many eye disorders will not show any vision changes until significant damage has been done.

Many people see the eye doctor only when their vision is blurry, but eye doctors have the technology to detect serious eye diseases before they cause vision damage. Yearly eye exams might have easily saved my patient’s eyes.

Yearly eye exams can also help detect overall health problems that you may be unaware of, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and strokes, which can all show their earliest signs in the eyes.

Eye cancer is more prevalent among people who are exposed to a lot of UV radiation, such as those who work outside and on the water. Eye cancer can be found on the eyelid, on the eye itself or inside the eye. Six percent of all skin cancers begin on the eyelid.

The best protection from UV radiation is a pair of high quality, polarized sunglasses. They will block your eyes and eyelids from UV radiation. Polarized sunglasses also reduce glare from the sun, which is important when out on the water.

But beware that all sunglasses that are labeled “polarized” are not the same. There are weak federal regulations in the United States on the amount of UV radiation that sunglasses must block.

Thus, some of the cheaper drugstore sunglasses may do more harm than good. Any dark lens will cause your eyes to dilate and allow more light and UV radiation in. If your sunglasses are not of high quality, this simply allows more damaging UV radiation into your eyes and may actually increase the risk of eye cancer.

Another way UV radiation can enter your eyes is from reflecting from the backside surface of your sunglasses. I recommend an anti-reflective coating on the back of high quality polarized sunglasses to minimize radiation bouncing into your eye.

Always check with your eye doctor to see if the sunglasses you wear have high quality polarized lenses in them and anti-reflective coating on the backside to minimize exposure to UV radiation.

Glaucoma is another silent eye disease that can be devastating because it can cause blindness if not detected early. It, too, has no symptoms or vision changes until the latest stages when the damage is permanent and irreversible.

People who are at more risk for glaucoma usually have the following risk factors: over the age of 40, any family history of glaucoma, any blunt trauma to the eye (even when you were a child) and any previous or current steroid use. The only way to detect glaucoma is to see your eye doctor.

, a 43-year-old man came into my office. He had always seen perfectly and had never had an eye exam. “Never needed one,” he said.

Though his vision was still clear, something seemed a little “off” so he came in to have it checked.

His vision was, indeed, perfect without glasses. But doing the eye health examination and looking inside his eyes, I discovered a huge tumor that took up about a third of the inside of one eye.

He had to have his eye removed about three weeks later. The surgeons were worried that his aggressive tumor would kill him if the eye was not removed.

Unfortunately, I see patients all the time who do not get their eyes examined yearly. Just because you can see clearly does not mean your eyes are healthy. There are many eye diseases such as cancer, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease that can be blinding or deadly, and they do not affect your vision until the end stages.

Many eye disorders will not show any vision changes until significant damage has been done.

Many people see the eye doctor only when their vision is blurry, but eye doctors have the technology to detect serious eye diseases before they cause vision damage. Yearly eye exams might have easily saved my patient’s eyes.

Yearly eye exams can also help detect overall health problems that you may be unaware of, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and strokes, which can all show their earliest signs in the eyes.

Eye cancer is more prevalent among people who are exposed to a lot of UV radiation, such as those who work outside and on the water. Eye cancer can be found on the eyelid, on the eye itself or inside the eye. Six percent of all skin cancers begin on the eyelid.

The best protection from UV radiation is a pair of high quality, polarized sunglasses. They will block your eyes and eyelids from UV radiation. Polarized sunglasses also reduce glare from the sun, which is important when out on the water.

But beware that all sunglasses that are labeled “polarized” are not the same. There are weak federal regulations in the United States on the amount of UV radiation that sunglasses must block.

Thus, some of the cheaper drugstore sunglasses may do more harm than good. Any dark lens will cause your eyes to dilate and allow more light and UV radiation in. If your sunglasses are not of high quality, this simply allows more damaging UV radiation into your eyes and may actually increase the risk of eye cancer.

Another way UV radiation can enter your eyes is from reflecting from the backside surface of your sunglasses. I recommend an anti-reflective coating on the back of high quality polarized sunglasses to minimize radiation bouncing into your eye.

Always check with your eye doctor to see if the sunglasses you wear have high quality polarized lenses in them and anti-reflective coating on the backside to minimize exposure to UV radiation.

Glaucoma is another silent eye disease that can be devastating because it can cause blindness if not detected early. It, too, has no symptoms or vision changes until the latest stages when the damage is permanent and irreversible.

People who are at more risk for glaucoma usually have the following risk factors: over the age of 40, any family history of glaucoma, any blunt trauma to the eye (even when you were a child) and any previous or current steroid use. The only way to detect glaucoma is to see your eye doctor.

~Dr. Dawn Bearden

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