Why eye exams are so important

Beyond maintaining proper vision, annual eye exams can help detect other health problems.

Eyesight can be easily taken for granted until there’s a notable problem. With sight’s value, it seems taking care of eye health and having routine eye exams would be relatively high on anyone’s to do list. But many neglect having routine eye exams, or wait until they notice vision problems before getting checked out. Waiting until symptoms appear, however, isn’t best since lack of symptoms doesn’t always mean one has good eye health.

Dr Truong stresses that a yearly eye exam is important in maintaining one’s vision and health and in providing early detection and intervention if needed.

1) Regular eye exams help maintain proper vision, monitor eye health

It is a common misconception that, if I can see well, my eyes are healthy. Ensuring a patient has the best visual acuity possible is one part of a comprehensive eye exam, but the ocular health itself is equally important. I recommend annual dilated exams to maintain proper vision and health checks for all patients.

Someone with a family history of vision loss or ocular disease may have an increased risk for vision loss. Significantly near-sighted patients can be at higher risk for retinal issues.

Any time new floaters, flashes of light, or a shadow or curtain over your vision is experienced, you should be seen for a dilated exam as soon as possible. I have also detected retinal issues in a routine exam that needed surgical intervention, and the patient was asymptomatic. I can’t stress enough the importance of annual eye exams.

2) Eye exams are more in depth than vision screening tests

Vision screening is a brief exam that checks for potential vision problems and eye disorders. However, eye exams offer a more comprehensive look into one’s eye health.

There is a huge difference in a vision screening and an eye exam. Vision screenings are helpful to determine what your level of vision is. These tests can be done at school, work, or in your primary care doctor’s office. Sometimes, they can give you a rough estimate of what your spectacle correction is. Eye exams are full health checks that include testing your vision and checking ocular health. Checking the health of the eye includes the front (or external) structures of the eye, such as the cornea, eyelids, and iris, and also the back (or internal) structures of the eye such as the lens, vitreous, and retina, to name a few. An eye exam can help detect early signs of ocular diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration and can prevent vision loss.

Comprehensive eye exams are performed by optometrists or ophthalmologists, doctors specializing in eye care.

3) Various medical conditions can affect eye health

There are many conditions that can manifest during a routine dilated exam that shows further testing should be done. Some of the diseases that can manifest in optic nerve appearance are glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, arteritic and non-arteritic ischemic optic neuropathy, and toxic optic neuropathy which occurs from substance abuse, to name a few.

There are many autoimmune diseases that can manifest in the eye as well, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and sarcoidosis.

Though many diseases and conditions can affect eye health, not all of them produce visual symptoms.

If any symptoms such as change in vision or vision loss, pain on eye movement, red eye, or light sensitivity is ever experienced, it would be best to come in for an eye exam.

4) Early detection of eye diseases are vital

Early detection is key for all eye diseases.

There aren’t many diseases where damage that has been done can be reversed, but further vision loss can be prevented if a diagnosis is made early. With glaucoma for example, if treatment is started as soon as possible, further damage to a patient’s vision will be prevented.

To help protect one’s sight Dr Truong recommends wearing 100 percent UV protection whenever outside in the sun.

Eating a balanced and healthy diet is also important, as some diseases like macular degeneration have been shown to benefit from a diet rich in leafy greens (i.e. spinach and kale).

5) Eye exams can detect potentially life-threatening health problems

Eye exams can reveal the presence of serious health problems.

In addition to diabetes, a dilated exam can show signs of damage from hypertension, high cholesterol, stroke, heart attack, and other vascular issues. Ocular findings include changes in the appearance of the retinal blood vessels and sometimes even retinal hemorrhages can also be seen during an exam … Lots of autoimmune disorders have ocular manifestations, and it is of utmost importance for all of the patient’s health care providers to work together to provide the best care for the patient.

-text extracted from the Dispatch.com

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