Our vision is one of the most important and precious gifts we are given as human beings, but unfortunately many people wait until they are experiencing problems before they see an eye doctor. While an eye exam is the first step to fixing vision problems, the severity of the problem can be greatly reduced if caught with early detection by a regular eye exam.
Eye exams benefit patients in many ways. First, common vision problems can be corrected by adjusting prescriptions for corrective lenses. Our eyes change over time as we age, so the glasses or corrective lenses you have been wearing may now be obsolete.
Eye exams can also check alignment in the eyes. Sometimes our eyes don’t always work in unison as they are designed to. In cases with crossed or turned eyes, extra strain is added on nerves and muscles leaving the patient in pain. Other times, the eyes may focus at different rates and which will cause blurriness and headaches.
Eye exams can also check your eye tone, which is the measure of the muscles that allow the eyes to change focus from short to long range, which may over time diminish due to weakened and aging muscles. Corrective lenses can help relieve stress on the muscles and relieve symptoms like blurriness and headaches.
Retina exams, which are commonly done with routine eye exams, are important because the blood vessels of the retina are excellent indicators for diabetes and high blood pressure, both life threatening conditions. And though painless, glaucoma can lead to serious degenerative vision issues that can lead to blindness. Glaucoma generally has no symptoms at early onset, and a routine eye exam can catch the disease before it progresses into a bigger problem.
An important part of the comprehensive eye exam is the dilated eye exam. This allows your doctor a clear view inside your eye as drops are placed into each eye to widen the pupil and allow more light to enter the eye. This allows your doctor to see important tissues at the back of the eye, including the retina, the macula and the optic nerve. This is the best technique for early diagnosis of sight-threatening eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, etc.
So how often should you receive an eye exam? Dr. David East of Opti-Club says that varies depending on age and the overall quality of each patient’s vision. The American Optometric Association recommends a comprehensive eye exam every two years for adults ages 18 to 60. Anyone over the age of 60 is recommended to have an annual exam, as the risks of glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration significantly increase as we age.
Diabetic patients need annual exams as they are more susceptible to depleted eye site due to their condition. Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in adults. If you are diabetic, don’t skip an exam as your eyesight can change rapidly, especially as you get older.
Patients who already wear glasses or corrective lenses will need an annual exam, and while your prescription may not have changed in years, it can happen anytime. Children are also encouraged to have their eye exams annually due to their rapidly changing physiology, which can lead to rapid changes in eye sight.
Dr. East suggests that while these are general guidelines for eye exams, if you are experiencing any changes in vision, headaches or pain, you should see an eye doctor as soon as possible.
So what can you do to maintain your eye health in addition to annual exams? Experts say diets rich in leafy greens such as kale and spinach and foods high in omega fatty acids, such as fish, are helpful to supporting healthy vision, and aerobic exercise also helps the eye tissue by improving circulation. Smoking is extremely detrimental to eye health, and increases your chances of developing cataracts, macular degeneration and damage to the optic nerve.
Once you’ve had your exam, your doctor will discuss any concerns he or she may have regarding the findings in your tests. Be sure to ask questions and be prepared to follow the doctor’s orders. We are only given one set of eyes, and our vision is key to the assistance of our everyday lives. Be sure to maintain your eye health with an eye health specialist like Dr. East at Opti-Club, located at 6496 N. Davis Hwy. For more information on Dr. East and Opti-Club, call 850-484-2807 or visit opti-club.com.
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