The secrets that an eye exam can unlock
Making regular eye care a priority can be life-changing. Eleven million Americans need help with their vision, and technology has improved drastically in recent years. Eye exams can prevent trouble by alerting your doctor to health conditions you didn’t know you had and prevent vision loss. The typical eye exam is fast, simple, and pain-free.
What is a basic eye exam?
Just by taking a few simple eye images, a doctor can get an early glimpse of eye diseases and use treatments to preserve your vision or restore what you may have already lost. The first step is usually a dilated eye exam given by an optometrist. The test measures eye alignment, eye movement, visual sharpness, and depth perception. New technology offers an alternative to dilated eye exams. Sometimes, a doctor will snap a simple picture of your pupil, allowing them to see as far inside as they need without eye drops.
“Eye exams can also highlight other health issues. If we can see trouble coming, we can treat it faster and get ahead of it,” says Otashe Golden, MD, Regional Medical Director at WelbeHealth.
Many people, when they try on a new pair of glasses, suddenly see clearly and realize how out of focus the world had become. “Most of us have experienced it – and it can be scary,” says Dr. Golden. “One day you can read street signs perfectly well, and the next, you are driving on the highway at night and can’t find your exit.”
Many eye diseases are relatively common and can go unnoticed for a long time, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults
Diabetes patients are at higher risk for glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetic retinopathy — scarring on the retina’s blood vessels — can happen due to high blood sugar levels and is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetic retinopathy is also the most preventable cause of blindness. By seeing an eye doctor, early detection and treatment can prevent or delay blindness. For most people with diabetes, there can be very little treatment available if the diagnosis comes too late.
How often do you need an eye exam?
How often should you get an eye exam depends on certain factors. For people with diabetes, it is recommended to get an eye exam every year. On the other hand, individuals who are African American and aged 40 years and older, Mexican Americans who are 60 years or older, and those with a family history of glaucoma should have an eye exam at least every two years.
Get Ways to Protect Your Vision
- Get regular eye exams.
- Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight.
- Wear sunglasses that block out 99% to 100% of UA and UVB sunlight.
- Don’t smoke.
- Use protective eyewear to avoid injury.
- If you are reading on a screen, be sure to take frequent breaks to give your eyes a rest.
Pay attention to symptoms of eye trouble.
Call your family doctor, nurse, or eye doctor if you notice eye symptoms such as:
- Difficulty seeing or double vision
- Redness of the eye or pain in the eye
- Flashes of light
- Floaters (specks look like they float in front of you)
- Circles/halos around lights