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How can an eye test look out for your whole body?

An eye exam to monitor the health of your eyes is what a physical is for your overall health. In fact an eye exam can also provide an early detection for some overall health issues including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Detection of any eye issues in it’s early stages is the number one key for the proper treatment and recovery. In each case, patients are immediately referred to their general practitioner for further tests and diagnosis.

What type of ailments can a comprehensive eye exam detect?

The primary ailments that could be detected in an eye exam include:

1. Glaucoma:  Glaucoma generally refers to a group of disorders that damage the optic nerve which provides information from the eye to the brain.  Glaucoma has been nicknamed the “sneak thief of sight” because of it’s gradual occurrence to loss of sight over time and many times not diagnosed until it is in it’s advanced stages. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. Screening for Glaucoma is usually performed during a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Early detection is key for treatment and recovery.

2. AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration): Macular degeneration is a medical condition that usually occurs in older adults that makes it difficult to see fine details. Symptoms include: blurriness, trouble discerning colors, slow recovery of visual function after exposure to bright light and distorted vision. If you are over age 60 and you’ve had some changes to your vision your eye doctor can perform an examination to test for macular degeneration. The eye doctor will dilate your pupils and with a special magnifying lens look for yellow deposits called drusen on your retina.

3. Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetic Retinopathy is a diabetes related eye disease and can lead to blindness if not treated properly and it’s early stages. Symptoms of this disease include: blurry vision,  seeing flashes or floaters, occasional double vision and problems with night vision. Diabetic Retinopathy has become the leading cause of new cases of blindness for age groups between 24-70. Through an eye exam the eye doctor will be able to look directly at the blood vessels inside the eye and detect signs of retinopathy.

4. Cataracts: A cataract is a clouding that forms in the lens of the eye. Symptoms include: cloudiness, loss of color intensity, decreased night vision and seeing halos. Generally adults advancing in age develop cataracts and it may run within families. An eye doctor will be able to diagnose cataracts using a Slit Lamp during a standard eye examination. Depending on the severity of the cataracts surgery maybe required to remove it.

5. Hypertension: Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition that puts extra strain on the heart and blood vessels, increasing risk of heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Your optometrist can see nipping to the blood vessels where they cross each other or haemorrhage in the retina at the back of the eye.

6. High Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the blood which can increase your risk of heart attack. Bits of cholesterol can break away from deposits in the body and lodge in the blood vessels of the retina. Your optometrist will see tiny yellowish blockages in the arterial vessels. There may also be a visible thin white line circling the coloured part of the eye – the iris – due to cholesterol deposits in the eye.

7. Brain Tumor: Tumours are tissue growths that can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). Swelling of the optic nerve can be a possible sign of brain tumour.

8. Thyroid Disease: The thyroid gland in the neck produces hormones that regulate metabolism. Disease can cause it to make too much or too little, resulting in problems. An optician can notice bulging or protruding eyeballs – a symptom of thyroid disease.

9. Multiple Sclerosis: MS is a neurological disability which can cause a range of symptoms from fatigue to memory problems. An optician may notice swelling of the optic nerve, blurred vision and sensitivity to light.

10. Stroke:  A stroke is caused by either a blockage or a bleed in the brain – patients may have a series of minor strokes without noticing before suffering a major one that can result in paralysis or death. A comprehensive eye exam can reveal tiny clots or particles of cholesterol moving through the blood vessels in the retina during an eye examination, which can indicate that a person may have already had a stroke.

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. Eye exams for children play an important role in ensuring normal vision development and academic achievement of all kids.

Vision is closely linked to the learning process. Children with undetected vision problems often will have trouble with their schoolwork. Many times, children will not complain of vision problems simply because they don’t know what “normal” vision looks like.

If your child is performing poorly at school, be sure to have his or her eyes examined by an eye doctor who specializes in children’s vision to rule out an underlying visual cause.

What Is the Eye Doctor Checking for?

In addition to evaluating your eyes for glasses and contacts, your eye doctor 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:

Why are vision screenings no substitute for a complete eye exam?

Vision screenings are limited eye tests that help identify people who are at risk for vision problems. These are the brief vision tests performed by the school nurse, a pediatrician, other health care providers or volunteers. The eye test that you take when you get your driver’s license renewed is an example of a vision screening.

Depending on who is performing the test and where the test is given, vision screenings may include tests for blur, muscle coordination and/or common eye diseases. A vision screening can indicate that you need to get your eyes checked, but it does not serve as a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam.

A comprehensive eye examination is performed by an eye doctor and includes careful testing of all aspects of your vision. Based on the results of your exam, your eye doctor will then recommend a treatment plan for your individual needs.

Remember, only an optometrist or ophthalmologist can provide a comprehensive eye exam — family physicians and pediatricians are not fully trained to do this, and studies have shown that they can miss important vision problems that require treatment.

What are some treatment plans for after an eye exam?

Treatment plans following your eye exam can include a prescription for glasses or contact lenses to correct refractive errors, vision therapy or strabismus surgery for binocular vision problems, medical treatment for eye disease or simply a recommendation that you have your eyes examined again within a specific time frame.

Your eye doctor also may recommend that you take eye vitamins or vision supplements to maintain good eye health or to help alleviate specific problems like dry eyes.

No matter who you are, regular eye exams are important for seeing more clearly, learning more easily and preserving your vision for life. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.