Importance of Eye Exams

February 27, 2020

It seems like a no-brainer. Go for an eye exam. If you are a caring and concerned mom or dad or other guardian of any child, make it a point to always arrange for a yearly eye exam. Except that it isn't. Too often, people simply take their eye health for granted. If they feel like they see fine or their old glasses work great, nothing to be concerned about, right?

Well maybe, and maybe not.

Eyes are delicate structures, made up of millions of working parts to get their jobs done. And so many other factors about our lives and our health can affect how our eyes function and how healthy they actually are.

But what if my primary care doctor has said it looks good? Well, chances are if your primary care doctor has no concerns, then you shouldn't be worried, either. But that still doesn't mean you should not follow up with an eye exam from a professional.

A Vision Screening Check Is Not Enough

When you have had a sight or vision screening check, from your primary care professional, or if your child has received one at school from a nurse, that is great. But these tests are mainly to assess if you or your child are having difficulties with vision and could benefit from further consultation and maybe corrective lenses. These simple tests do not help to check the overall eye health itself.

An ophthalmologist or optometrist specializes in just your eyes. So, while your primary care doc may know what basics to be aware of, he or she might miss something else. That is where your eye specialist can play such a vital role in finding an issue that may be minor now but could lead to great problems down the road. Their equipment is specialized to not only determine if glasses would be a benefit to you or your, but also to be on the alert for an incredible variety of health issues.

An examination from a professional will check for a variety of eye issues, like acuity, depth perception, your eyes specific alignment, as well as how your eyes move around. Pupils will then be dilated to see deep inside your eyes and look for issues that may concern the doctor. He or she may even find an issue that will need follow up from your primary care doctor or another specialist.

Your Eyesight Changes Over Time

And even if your eyes are stellar examples of health, your vision itself may have altered since your last exam and eye lens prescription. Eyes do change over time, as do our entire bodies. Vision follows this course, as well. Prescriptions may over time need to be increased, so that you are always getting the best possible eyesight you can. Weak or out of date glasses will end up doing you more harm than good, over the long haul.

And children's eyes are still developing, their eyesight still changing. Your young one might think they see find, but once the eye health expert has had time to measure and examine them, you might be surprised to find out that they would benefit, sometimes greatly, from a pair of eyeglasses.

Common Issues Your Doctor May Detect

Some of the issues doctors may look for that could damage your vision include diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, dangerous macular deterioration or even diabetic retinopathy, which can present little to no symptoms before the disease itself has moved to a more dangerous state. Other things they can look for include diabetes itself, or high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol and the damage they can do to our eyes. Or tumors, cancer or other autoimmune or thyroid disorders. Our eyes truly can be the window to so much more going on with our bodies.

Glaucoma especially is also a major concern, because it is not a disease you become aware of until it has already progressed to a point where you could face vision loss. Once you have reached this stage, it is harder to control and, without treatment or surgery, can even lead to blindness. But with eye exams and catching it early enough, you can get ahead of the disease.

Keep an Eye on Your Child's Vision, Too

For children, eye concerns or vision problems can also be the root cause of other problems they may be experiencing, like learning or reading difficulties or motor development delays. Problems with hand to eye coordination may also lead to behavioral issues, since the child may not even be aware they aren't seeing well and reacting badly to situations. Early detection can help to stop or even cut these issues off before they occur.

Also, with the amount of screen time children are exposed to daily, in school and in their home lives, you will want to make sure they not only have clarity of vision, but are also functioning well and their eyes are comfortable with the daily exposure. Computer glasses are becoming more and more common as we spend more time in front of the glare from computer and mobile screens.

With the ever-increasing diagnosis of myopia or nearsightedness in children, it is also becoming more important to detect this early so that their risk of vision loss from cataracts or other problems can be reduced by slowing the progression of their myopia.

Early Detection Is Your Best Strategy

Early detection is the magical, common-sense key here. By scheduling and following up with yearly eye exams, you are not only providing your eye specialist with a vital base for your health going forward, you are increasing the odds of catching a disease or condition when it is still in the beginning stages, greatly increasing the likelihood of battling this issue successfully.

Remember, more than half of all vision loss issues around the world are preventable with early and proper care and scientific treatment. Sadly, of the over 60 million adults in our country who are at risk for vision issues, just 50% have gone to see an eye specialist in the previous year. Why risk such a vital part of your body, something you use each and every waking moment.

Become a role model and schedule annual eye exams for your children, as well as yourself and stress how vital you believe it is to be prepared. They will learn from you and appreciate it over the course of their own lives.

Take advantage of the great strides medicine and science have made and keep your eyes as healthy as possible for as long as possible. You'll see it was the best course of action.