An annual eye exam is about more than just updating your prescription for contacts or glasses. While this is important to ensure you're seeing to the best of your ability, there are other reasons a visit is crucial at least twice a year. A routine eye exam can detect other serious health problems before you're even experiencing symptoms. Did you know that many people first learn they have serious health conditions like brain tumors, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer from a routine eye exam?
Our eyes are a very effective window to our overall health. During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor can observe and evaluate the health and condition of the blood vessels in your retina. These are a good predictor of the health of the blood vessels throughout your body. Conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia all are visible by changes in the appearance of the retinal blood supply and blood vessels. Your doctor will also look for eye muscle imbalance, vision disorder, and eye disease that could potentially cause future problems.
Many people wait until they notice a change in their vision to see a doctor. But eye problems are often silent - meaning they have no symptoms, which can be dangerous if you are waiting to see a change before making an appointment.
Annual eye exams are especially important for anyone with diabetes or who might be at risk for the disease (due to obesity, family history, etc). More than 30 million Americans with diabetes and another 84 million are at risk for developing diabetic eye disease which is a leading cause of blindness among adults. In its early stages, diabetic eye disease has zero visible symptoms; only a comprehensive eye exam can detect signs of the disease. The sooner treatment is sought, the likelier the vision can be preserved. If no treatment is given, vision loss will ensue.
So you've had a vision screening? It's not the same as a complete exam. Screenings are partial, limited eye evaluations that take place outside an eye doctor's office. While they can be helpful in detecting some problems with vision, it is a limited exam. At your optometrist's office, a thorough eye exam takes deeper look at your vision and how it affects your overall health. Eye history and family history are also considered as a preventative measure to stop eye disease before it begins.
What are you waiting for? Don't put it off any longer. Even if you think you have perfect vision, an annual eye exam can be one of the best things you can do to protect your overall health and wellness. Start the new year right with a visit to Kirkwood Eye Associates.
Andrew Biondo, O.D., is the Primary Medical Director at Kirkwood Eye Associates in Kirkwood, MO. Serving the greater St. Louis area, Dr. Biondo has 8 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator & consultant to the specialty contact lens industry. His special interests include contact lenses, dry eye disease, glaucoma, macular degeneration, laser eye surgery & preventive vision care.