Eye Defects: Why You Need Routine Eye Check-Ups
When it comes to eye defects awareness, many of us happen to be very nearsighted, ignoring the fact that eye defects go beyond just myopia and hyperopia. It is possible for a person to be living with an eye defect that they may not even be aware of simply because it hasn’t posed any conspicuous discomfort yet. In their minds, they may feel like they have perfectly healthy eyes that function optimally. It may interest you to know, however, that no disease appears overnight in the body. It’s almost always the effect of a compounding causing factor, gradually building up till it finally gains momentum to take down the immune system.
Like every other part of the body, routine checks need to be carried out on the eye too. This prevents visual impairment or a more permanent consequence of eye defects.
How Often Do You Check Your Eyes?
Eye defects can present themselves in different forms from glaucoma to cataracts, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) to retinal detachment, Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) to Uveitis, Eye Allergies to blepharitis, hyperopia to myopia, astigmatism to color blindness. Regardless of physical condition or age, it is essential to have regular eye check-ups to: keep your glasses up to date, check for eye conditions that otherwise can go undetected, or just for your peace of mind.
It is not uncommon to find that people mistake having a visual screening for having an eye exam. An overall eye exam doesn’t only examine your vision but thoroughly examines your eye health. It tests for eye diseases or the underlying causes of any vision problem. This is usually carried out by an optometrist.
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A visual screening however is usually carried out before an eye exam as this is what helps determine if a comprehensive eye exam is required. Visual screenings should not be seen as a substitute for an eye exam.
As a general rule of thumb, every one should have their eyes checked at least every year regardless of their age or overall health.
Why You Need Routine Eye Check-Ups
Diabetes and Hypertension
Having an eye exam not only looks at your vision. It can also provide a window to your overall health such as diabetes. Your eyes are the only area where your health practitioner can look at how your blood vessels naturally, in their environment. As such, during your routine eye examination, your optometrist may perform a dilated eye examination to assess your retinal blood vessels.
Systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension change the appearance of your blood vessel. The first signs of diabetes or high blood pressure could be detected during a routine eye examination. Unmanaged diabetes could lead to diabetic retinopathy – which is significant bleeding in the eye affecting the retina and the macula, causing irreversible scarring causing permanent blindness.
Depending on how well your diabetes or hypertension is managed, it could take weeks or months for unmanaged diabetes to start to affect your vision. It is recommended that you have your eyes checked every 12 months to ensure you’re not at risk of blindness due to diabetes or hypertension.
Of all serious eye diseases, glaucoma is probably the sneakiest. This is because there are no discernible symptoms in most cases of early glaucoma — nothing to alert you that something’s going wrong.
People who fail to have a routine eye test and develop glaucoma typically become aware of it only after they have sustained a degree of vision loss from the disease. And by that time, controlling glaucoma to prevent additional vision loss can be very difficult.
Without successful control with medical treatment and/or glaucoma surgery, the disease can lead to blindness.
Early detection of high eye pressure and other risk factors for glaucoma is possible only with a routine eye test. Vision screenings do little to nothing to identify or prevent glaucoma.
Medications can have side effects. If you’re taking certain long-term medications this can begin to affect your eye vision. It, therefore, helps to have your eyes tested as a baseline. This would help your physician to manage the dosage of the medication and your condition effectively.
After your initial assessment, it is common to have your eyes tested again in 3 months to detect any subtle changes, then routinely every year; sooner if the dosage of the medication has changed.
Hydroxychloroquine, marketed as Plaquenil is one such medication to look out for. The medication is very toxic to specific layers of the retina. If not careful, the damage to these layers of the retina could lead to irreversible changes to your vision.
If you’re a young and healthy individual with no issues with your vision, you might take your vision for granted. Nowadays, we are spending more time on our computers which could tire your eyes out. This could make your vision fluctuate and sometimes result in headaches. This can be an indication of eye strain. A routine eye examination with your optometrist would be able to advise you further.
Glasses with a mild strength or prescription may help your eyes focus. They would alleviate symptoms of eye strain and make your vision more comfortable. If glasses were recommended to help with the eye strain, it is often a temporary measure. It is usually not required if the hours you spend on the computer or reading reduces.
The review period for eye strain is typically around 6 – 12 months. This is to ensure your eye fatigue hasn’t worsened from your initial appointment. Your optometrist may review you closely to see if your eyes have further deteriorated or if your prescription needs adjustments.
No need to wait out till you begin to physically feel your eyesight deteriorate before going for eye check-ups. Incorporate this as part of your general health check-up.
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