Most of us visit a dentist for a regular cleaning or checkup. Maybe we see a primary care physician for an annual physical, especially as we get older. But regular trips to an eye doctor matter just as much, even if we don’t have vision problems that require ongoing treatment. An annual eye exam can forestall difficulties or address issues before they get out of hand. It can even discover conditions elsewhere in the body that we don’t associate with vision.
Keeping Healthy Eyes Healthy
A comprehensive annual eye exam covers a lot of ground. Your doctor will review personal and family medical issues that affect vision, measure visual acuity and determine if you need corrective lenses. The exam will also include measurement of intraocular pressure and microscopic examination of the front and interior of your eye. This includes your retina and optic nerve. For more information on eye exams at Horizon Eye Care, see our Eye Exams services page.
Early in life, eyes change rapidly. The length of our eyes continues to increase by about 50 percent after birth, so children need frequent eye exams to screen for disease and monitor visual development. Visually significant refractive error, the most common vision problem in childhood, affects 10 percent of U.S. children but can usually be completely corrected with a pair of glasses.
Beyond childhood, the American Optometric Association (AOA) and American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommend exams based on age and risk. These screen for eye diseases such as glaucoma and optimize your vision. Once you reach 65, the AAO recommends annual medical eye exams, regardless of other factors, as ocular issues such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration become more common.
Exams for Eyes at Risk
An eye care provider will use an initial exam to determine your risk for ocular diseases. Ethnicity, family history, systemic medical conditions, use of certain medications, previous eye surgery and contact lens use are factors.
Family history and ethnic background can increase your risk of glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Systemic medical conditions such as diabetes warrant annual eye exams to check for diabetic retinopathy, a complication which can lead to blindness if left untreated.
The use of certain medications, such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), require special screening exams to monitor for ocular toxicity. Even more common medications such as corticosteroids can have ocular side effects. If you’ve already had an eye surgery (even LASIK) or been diagnosed with an ocular condition, you know the importance of annual eye exams.
Side Benefits of an Annual Eye Exam
Eye doctors may notice problems that haven’t yet been diagnosed by other physicians. Certain findings in the eye can indicate hypertension. Damage to blood vessels in the retina may be an indicator of diabetes.
An eye exam might even detect signs of cancer. Common skin cancers may be present on the outer surfaces of the eye or eyelids; lymphoma and leukemia can cause changes to the interior of the eye. So, a doctor conducting a thorough annual eye exam can tell a lot more than how well you read a chart Or whether you need glasses.
To schedule an eye exam at Horizon Eye Care, call 704-365-0555 Monday – Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.