An EYE exam is more than vision correction
Your eyes - the window to your overall health...
Your eyes reveal more about your health than just good or poor visual acuity. They are the windows through which your optometrist will discover your overall health status.
No other organ of your body can so easily reveal the condition of your veins and arteries as your eyes. Since many metabolic irregularities affect your blood vessels, your eyes can be the key for early diagnosis for those diseases. Your eyes show the optometrist the early signs of diseases, which may affect your vision as well. That's why regular eye checks are so important, even if you don't experience any problems with your vision.
Your eyes are telling a story only your optometrist can interpret. During an eye exam your optometrist will look for the following signs:
The reason for headache is not always related to external factors like being sensitive to the change of the weather. Severe diseases may cause headache especially in the area of your eyes and your forehead. The range of diseases could be very wide i.e. from an inflammation of the sinuses, an undiscovered tumour or glaucoma1 up to the functional disorders of your eye muscles causing i.e. strabismus2. This puts an emphasis on the importance of the diagnosis and treatment of headache. Your optometrist will look for those signs during a regular eye check.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
One of the very first signs, which could indicate high blood pressure, are irregular and narrow blood vessels. That's why an eye check with your optometrist goes beyond the examination of your vision problems, it is also a prevention check for hypertension.
You sometimes feel hot and thirsty, your vision fails temporarily and you loose or gain weight - something must be wrong. The retina may tell your optometrist the story. Small circular areas bleeding on the retina or deposits so called "soft cotton- wool" deposits may be an sign of diabetes. A changing vision due to change in the blood sugar level during the day may be another sign for diabetes. A visit with your optometrist give you clarity.
If you suffer from high blood pressure you must be sure that your treatment is covering all blood pressure peaks throughout the day. The retina is providing important information. It allows the optometrist to tell you whether you should be very carefully monitoring your health status with regards to the risk of a stroke. Typical narrow retinal vessels in a special shape can be discovered during an eye exam and therefore by giving you the correct advice, your optometrist can reduce the risk of a stroke.
You love good food - who doesn't? But what about your lipid profile? During an eye check, your optometrist will discover your past "sins" just in time. Lipids do adhere to the wall of the vessels of the retina and will change their structure. The sclerosis1 and occlusion of the blood vessels induced by the lipid deposition may cause high blood pressure, heart diseases and a stroke. Early detection of high cholesterol levels will help to protect you from those diseases and will extend your lifetime.
Double vision, visual field loss and uncoordinated or involuntary eye movements might be early signs of Multiple Sclerosis. Of course, an eye examination cannot take the place of a thorough examination done by your general practitioner or by a specialist. However, your eyes can reveal a lot of information about your health status.
Your eyes and their most common diseases - spotting trouble before you see it:
The eye is susceptible to its own diseases. Many of which have minimal associated symptoms that can cause a range of problems from blurry vision to blindness. It is you who need to take responsibility for your eyes - you need to do your part. Just do a simple eye check once a day by asking yourself:
If you answer one of these questions with "no" you should go to your optometrist. The routine checks your optometrist will perform are painless and often non-invasive.
Most common eye diseases:
Glaucoma causes high levels of pressure inside the eye due to failure of the eye to regulate its own internal pressure. The danger is that you don't feel it and you don't realize it until it is too late. Your eye is constantly under pressure and the pressure is increasing slowly without you being able to notice it. Glaucoma is one of the best investigated eye diseases, but still it is one of the most dangerous ones. That's why early detection is so crucial to prevent from the loss of sight.
The untreated glaucoma causes blindness by atrophy of the optic nerve induced by the squeezing of the optic nerve through the high pressure in the inner eye. The treatment of glaucoma ranges from the simple use of eye drops in the early stage to laser treatment and finally to surgery in severe cases. You need to know that a damaged nerve can not be restored. But healthy nerves can be protected. Regular Glaucoma prevention (once a year) with your eye optometrist is one of the MUST DOs of anyone who cares about his health. It's painless - you just need to do it.
The natural lens of the eye called "the crystalline lens" becomes cloudy or milky with age. In some instances genetic predisposition can cause cataract even with younger people. This is a very normal and progressing process, which everybody will go through in his life sooner or later. If you develop a cataract, you only realize that vision becomes hazy, glare increases and night driving is uncomfortable.
In this case the natural lens needs to be removed and replaced by a synthetic lens made of plastic. This operation is one of the most common surgeries done worldwide. With regards to cataract it is important to know that UV exposure accelerates the progress of cataract. That's why UV protection with spectacles and contact lenses is very important. But be aware: cloudy vision is not only caused by a milky crystalline lens. See your Optometrist for clarification in case you suffer from cloudy vision.
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