March is National Save Your Vision Month. While many of us think that having good vision simply means that our eyes are healthy, that is not always the case. Regular comprehensive eye exams can ensure that you not only keep your vision in great shape, but that you keep your eyes, and ultimately your body, healthy as well. Scheduling an eye exam is the first step to take in saving your vision.
During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor does so much more than just figure out your prescription for eyeglasses or contacts. Your doctor also checks your eyes for common eye diseases, examines how your eyes work together, and also evaluates your eyes as an indicator of your overall health. Eye doctors are often the first health care professional to detect chronic systemic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Eye exams are a vital part of health maintenance for everyone, no matter your age. Adults should have their eyes tested annually to keep their prescriptions current and to check for early signs of eye disease. Eye exams for children play an important part in ensuring normal vision development as well as academic achievement. Vision is closely linked to the learning process and children with undetected vision issues will often having difficulty with their academics.
In addition to evaluating your eyes for contact lenses and glasses, your eye doctor will also check your eyes for diseases and other issues that could contribute to vision loss. Here are some exampled of the conditions your eye doctor will be looking for:
- Eye teaming problems
It’s possible your eyes do not work together efficiently as a team, even if they appear to be properly aligned. Binocular vision problems can cause eye strain, headaches and other issues that can affect vision.
- Refractive error
Refractive error refers to nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Refractive errors can be corrected by eyeglasses, contacts or refractive surgery.
Strabismus if more commonly known as crossed eyes. Your doctor will check your eyes’ alignment to make sure they are working properly together.
- Eye diseases
Many eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, have no symptoms in their early stages of development. During your exam, your doctor will check the health of your eyes inside and out for signs of problems. In many cases, early detection and treatment of eye diseases can help reduce the risk of permanent vision loss.
- Other diseases
By looking if your eyes’ blood vessels, retina, and other vital parts, your eye doctor can actually detect the early warning signs of certain conditions and diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and many other problems. For example, diabetes causes small blood vessel leaks or bleeding in the eye as well as swelling of the macula, which can lead to vision loss. Your eye doctor can detect this during a comprehensive eye exam and administer appropriate treatment.