– Ed

Regardless of your age or physical health, a comprehensive eye examination every year will help rule out any underlying eye disease or visual disorders. The early diagnosis of eye disease is very important because that is when they are most treatable. Eye disease that goes undetected can cause irreversible damage to your eyes and sight.

During a comprehensive eye examination, your optometrist will not only determine your prescription for glasses or contact lenses, but will also check your eyes for common eye diseases, assess how your eyes work together as a team and evaluate your eyes as an indicator of your overall health.

Who should get their eyes examined?

Eye examinations are an important part of health maintenance for everyone. Adults should have their eyes tested to keep their prescriptions current and to check for early signs of eye disease. For children, eye exams can play an important role in normal development and learning.

Vision is closely linked to the learning process. Children who have trouble seeing or interpreting what they see will often have trouble with their schoolwork. Often, children will not complain of vision problems, simply because they don’t know what “normal” vision looks like. If your child performs poorly at school or exhibits a reading or learning problem, be sure to schedule an eye examination to rule out an underlying visual cause.

What is the optometrist checking for?

In addition to evaluating whether you have near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism, your optometrist will check your eyes for eye diseases and other problems that could lead to vision loss. Here are some examples of the conditions that your eye doctor will be looking for:

• Amblyopia:

This occurs when the eyes are misaligned or when one eye has a much different prescription than the other. The brain will “shut off” the image from the turned or blurry eye. If left untreated, amblyopia can stunt the visual development of the affected eye, resulting in permanent vision impairment. Amblyopia is often treated by patching the stronger eye for periods of time.

• Strabismus:

Strabismus is defined as crossed or turned eyes. Your optometrist will check your eyes’ alignment to be sure that they are working together properly. Strabismus causes problems with depth perception and can lead to amblyopia or can be responsible for double vision.

• Eye Diseases:

Many eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, have no obvious symptoms in their early stages. Your optometrist will check the health of your eyes inside and out for signs of early problems. In most cases, early detection and treatment of eye diseases can help reduce your risk for permanent vision loss.

• Other Diseases:

Your optometrist can detect early signs of some systemic conditions and diseases by looking at the blood vessels and optic nerve in the back of your eyes. She may be able to tell you if you are developing high blood pressure or have diabetes. For example, diabetes can cause small blood vessel leaks or bleeding in the eye, as well as swelling of the macula (the most sensitive part of the retina), which can lead to vision loss. It is estimated that one-third of people who have diabetes don’t know it. The optometrist is often the first person to detect diabetes in a patient.

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