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This post was most recently updated on May 25th, 2020
Most people tend to remember to go for their routine physical once a year and to take a trip to the dentist every 6 months. However many people forget about their routine eye exams. Getting a routine eye exam done at least once every 2 years will help detect any common eye diseases at an early stage, which is the time when they have a higher chance of being treatable.
What Is The Importance Of An Eye Exam
Not only that, your eyes can be a great indicator of your overall health, and some hidden health concerns may be detected during your routine comprehensive eye exam. Of course, your prescription will be determined during this process if you have one.
What Hidden Health Concerns Can Be Detected?
While that may be surprising to hear, there are other benefits to having your eye exam done routinely. Aside from just figuring out what your prescription is, eye doctors may be able to detect serious health concerns such as:
- High Cholesterol – Whenever you have high cholesterol, your eye doctor may be able to see plaque built-up around the blood vessels.
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) – Your eye doctor may be able to detect that you have high blood pressure by looking at the blood vessels in your eye. Individuals with high blood pressure may show signs of bends, tears, or breaks in their blood vessels.
- Diabetes – Diabetes affects the small capillaries in the retina of the eyes. When this happens those blood vessels may leak blood or a yellowish fluid in which your eye doctor may see in your eye exam. When this leaking is discovered, you may have a condition called diabetic retinopathy.
- Thyroid Disease – One of the side effects of thyroid disease are bulging or protruding eyeballs.
- Cancer – Your routine eye exam may be able to detect cancer in your eyes, or on your eyelid which could eventually spread through the eye.
- Tumor – Tumors may be detected through an eye exam if your eye doctor notices your eyelid is droopy, or you have misshaped pupils.
- Autoimmune disorders – Autoimmune disorders may cause your eyes to be inflamed, this could be a sign of an autoimmune disorder such as Lupus.
- Anything Else Unusual – One time a young patient came into the optical location I was working at for a routine eye exam and noted that he felt like his vision had gotten a bit worse. During the exam, the optometrist working at the time noticed that there was blood behind his eye. He was advised to go to the emergency room, and we later found out the patient had a blood clot in one of the vessels behind the eye. Which was causing blood to build up, and causes the vision problems the patient was experiencing. Had that blood clot not been taken care of, this patient might have lost his vision completely.
Can you see why it is important to have a routine eye exam done? It really goes hand in hand with getting your physical done every year to make sure there is nothing going on with the rest of your body. Check out this video from VSP Vision Care with Dr. Aaron Lech discussing the importance of an eye exam.
Signs You May Need an Eye Exam
If you have never had an eye exam ever during your lifetime then it is probably a good idea just to go get it checked out. Your vision can change countless times over the course of your life, even over the course of a few months so you should definitely make it a habit.
Nevertheless here are some signs that you may need to go have your vision checked out.
- Problems Reading – If you are having trouble reading something that you never had any issues reading before you might want to go see an eye doctor to get some prescription reading glasses prescribed. As tempting as it may be to go down to your local 99 cent store and buy the over-the-counter reading glasses, those glasses should only be used in emergencies they aren’t good for your eyes.
- Headaches – This is a good sign that you may need to get your eyes checked out. Especially if those headaches occur closer to the end of your day. If you need a prescription and you don’t wear glasses or contacts, your eyes are straining throughout the day, which leads to headaches. If you work in front of a computer or tablet for extended periods of time, and you find yourself getting headaches you should definitely have an eye exam done. Even if you end up not having a prescription, working for extended periods of time on the computer will cause headaches due to the glare. You may benefit from some non-prescription computer glasses.
- Problems Seeing Things Far Away – If you are having problems reading street signs, or can’t see the board in class, a trip to the eye doctor is warranted.
- Having Trouble Seeing at Night – If you feel like your vision is okay during the day, but you seem to have a harder time when the sun goes down, you might have a sign prescription and a trip to the eye doctor could help with that.
Who Should Have Routine Eye Exams
Getting a routine eye exam should be a habit for everyone. Adults should have their eye exam done at the very least once every two years. It is recommended that you go once a year, this is even more so important for seniors, anyone with diabetes, and anyone wearing contact lenses.
Children, on the other hand, should get their eyes examed at least once a year. Children’s eyes are constantly changing, some children may require an eye exam once every 6 months. It all depends on your child, and how much their eyes change. If you need to bring them in more often than once a year your doctor will advise you.
Being able to see is directly linked to learning in children, if you notice that your child is performing poorly in school, scheduling an eye exam would rule out an underlying visual cause. Children most of the time will not let you know if they have vision problems as they do not know what “normal” vision looks like, and it is up to you as parents to notice signs that your child may need glasses.
Do you understand why eye exams are so important now? One of the reasons why Eye Health HQ was launched was to help spread the message on eye health. According to the National Eye Institute, more than 11 million Americans have an uncorrected visual impairment that can impact their quality of life.
To me, that number is way too high. Eyewear today is more affordable than ever, and everyone should have their eyes checked and have the correct eyewear. This is for the safety of those individuals, and the safety of anyone those individuals are around on a daily basis. Having an uncorrected visual impairment leads to safety hazards when you are operating a car, heavy equipment, or doing anything where having sharp vision is vital.
Spread the word! Educate your friends and family on this important topic and think about your vision.
How often do you get your eyes checked? Feel free to share below! As always thank you for stopping by at Eye Health HQ, if you have any questions, or comments don’t hesitate to leave it below, and I will be sure to get back to you.
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