Why you should book your eye exam today
Your yearly eye exam isn’t only about making sure you can see well.
“The yearly eye exam is often overlooked and underappreciated,” says Rajeev K. Raghu, O.D., of the Eye Center in Jackson, New Jersey. Many people think an eye exam is only about bad vision and glasses. And yes, eye exams are meant to help with those concerns. But they also help your doctor spot changes in your eyes that are due to other health issues.
Here’s why regular eye exams should be part of your health routine.
Preventing vision loss with regular eye exams
“During a comprehensive eye exam, we not only measure the visual acuity but also assess the health of the eyes,” says Alisha L. Fleming, O.D. She’s with the department of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania. “Eye diseases can go undetected without a comprehensive exam, and some diseases have no symptoms at first. Early detection is imperative to preserve vision and prevent vision loss,” Fleming says.
If you experience an emergency situation, Fleming says you should see your optometrist or ophthalmologist right away. Possible emergencies could include:
- Signs of infection
- Eye pain
- Sudden decreased vision
- Flashing lights
- Floating spots
And people with certain conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of eye disease may need more frequent checkups. Your eye doctor will assess the health of your eyes and advise on how often your eyes should be checked.
If you wear eyeglasses or contacts, be sure to bring them to your exam.
Eye exam screening for serious health concerns
An eye exam is so much more than just a vision exam. During the exam, your doctor may dilate your eyes or do a laser retina scan. Your eye doctor can check for systemic problems in your body: diabetic problems, hypertension, high cholesterol, MS, tumors, or aneurysms. They can also check for serious eye conditions like cataracts, retinal issues, and glaucoma.
Screening for age-related macular degeneration is also very important, especially as you get older. This condition causes a breakdown in the central part of the retina (the light-detecting part of the eye) called the macula. And it’s the number one cause of blindness for people over the age of 65.
A lot of these conditions don’t have symptoms in the early and middle stages. “If you wait too long to come in, it can be disastrous,” says Raghu. That’s why it’s important to have an eye exam at least once a year.
Tips to help eye health
Your eye exam is a great time to check in with your doctor for year-round eye advice. Raghu always reminds his patients to guard their eyes against the sun.
“People should wear sunglasses more. They play a role not only in clarity of vision but also in protecting your retina,” says Raghu. Also, older people are sometimes tempted to take eye supplements when they don’t actually need them, says Raghu. He encourages everyone to eat a healthy diet to support eye health.
If you need a new eye doctor, we can help. Find providers near you.
Age-related macular degeneration stat: National Eye Institute
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.