It’s hard to see the logic in going for an eye exam when your vision seems just fine. After all, why waste the time and money when you already know you have 20-20 vision and it feels like you always will? That’s the stance taken by half of the adults in the US who haven’t had a full eye exam for the past two years.
Dr. Jennifer Andrews at Urban Eye Care can give you several reasons why putting off that yearly eye exam is a bad idea. She’s been helping folks in Seattle see better for more than 20 years, and a big part of that is catching issues early so she can treat them before they progress further and result in vision loss. Here are a few of the reasons to come and see Dr. Andrews now.
Eye charts are not enough
That DMV eye chart was easy for you, but it only measures how well you see things at a distance. That’s called visual acuity, but there are several other factors about your vision that can’t be revealed by reading a few letters on a poster, and they aren’t always obvious.
As part of a comprehensive eye exam, Dr. Andrews will perform computer vision assessments to measure the focusing power of your eyes. The results reveal whether you have an astigmatism (blurred vision) or any degree of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or presbyopia (poor close-up vision).
Like many people, you may not realize you have a vision problem because the change is so gradual over time you don’t notice the change. However, once you look through a series of corrective lenses and land on true clarity, you’ll be amazed.
You may have an eye disease without knowing it
Many eye diseases have no early warning signs and no symptoms. They can develop slowly and not become apparent until you’ve already begun to lose vision.
Routine eye exams can detect what you can’t. This becomes especially important as you age, because your risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration increases the older you get.
Annual eye exams also establish your baseline ocular health history so Dr. Andrews can spot potential problems more easily. And diagnosing eye disease early on, before it can cause significant damage, is one of the best ways to protect your vision and prevent blindness as you age.
Digital eye strain
Chunks of our day spent in front of computers, laptops, tablets, and phones is a way of life these days. Even binge-watching TV has added to the hours we stare at digital screens, and every minute adds strain to your eyes. Looking at screens for hours a day trains your eyes to blink less often, which makes them more likely to become red, dry, and itchy until they feel irritated, strained, or blurry all the time. In some cases, chronic digital eye strain can lead to other conditions like dry eye syndrome.
But if you have regular eye exams, you can find out if your screen habits are causing significant eye strain and get professional advice and treatment. Meanwhile, adjust your routine to give your eyes a much-needed break.
Your eyes can reveal other health problems
Your eyes can reveal early signs of several underlying illnesses and systemic diseases before you experience any other noticeable symptoms. In fact, in many cases, your optometrist is the first to detect warning signs during a routine, comprehensive, eye exam.
For instance, chronically red eyes could be an indication of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or another autoimmune disease, particularly if you also sometimes experience double vision or eye pain.
Age and eye exams
Dr. Andrews recommends all adults between the age of 18-60 come in to see her for an eye exam every other year. If glaucoma or cataracts run in your family, then once a year is better. The same goes if you have a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or eye disease.
The youngest patients should get a check-up as early as 6 months, then again at 3 years, and once again when school starts.
Clearly, getting routine eye exams is the best way to detect eye diseases in their earliest stages before they cause symptoms or premature vision loss. It’s also an excellent way to uncover certain health conditions before you suspect you may have a problem.