It’s been said that the eyes are a window into the soul – but they are also a window to your well-being. Whether you have 20/20 vision or need glasses to see clearly, an annual eye exam can help to catch and prevent both eye and non-eye related issues and diseases.
The obvious benefit of an eye exam is to help detect and treat vision problems, most commonly myopia (near-sightedness) and hyperopia (far-sightedness). The right glasses or contacts can be an easy fix; in fact, “80% of global visual impairment is avoidable, if prevented or corrected with proper treatment,” according to LensCrafters.
Indicators that you may need glasses or a new prescription include:
- Persistent headaches or neck aches.
- Frequent squinting to see text or objects clearly.
- Holding objects farther away to see them distinctly.
- Finding yourself increasing the text size on your phone or computer screen.
- Being overly distressed by glare or bright sunlight.
- Double or blurred vision.
Early Detection of Eye Disorders
In addition to correcting vision, an annual eye exam can help detect, diagnose and treat eye disorders.
“The risk of eye diseases increases after the age of 40, making regular eye exams even more important for older patients,” according to LensCrafters. “Early detection is key in preventing and detecting eye health problems.”
During your eye exam, your doctor will perform tests to identify your risk of different eye diseases, allowing for quicker and more comprehensive treatment. Many eye diseases can be treated more efficiently with early detection. For example, your doctor will test you for glaucoma and cataracts, which occur later in life but can be treated more easily if spotted sooner. Or, they might test your infant for amblyopia (lazy eye), which is also more easily treated if caught early.
Beyond Eye Health
Eye exams can also help determine and diagnose various other health problems in the body. By monitoring changes in sight and the eye, doctors can catch signs for a variety of conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid eye disease and malignant eye melanoma.
An eye exam provides a look into the cardiovascular system, allowing doctors a clear view of your blood vessels. This can help point to signs of heart disease and high blood pressure before signs of illness become apparent elsewhere in the body.
One of the most significant disorders that can be determined through an eye exam is diabetes. When high blood sugar levels are present in the body, they can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, resulting in blurred vision, blindness or diabetic retinopathy.
During your eye exam, your doctor will see if your retina’s blood vessels are damaged and refer you for a diabetes test, if necessary. However, when it comes to diabetes and your vision, there is hope. The AOA reports that “early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.”
New Technologies Used at the Eye Doctor
So, you’ve seen how eye exams are critical to both your eye and overall health, but you’re still nervous about going to the eye doctor. Not to worry! The latest technologies and tests can lead to shorter, less invasive and more thorough exams.
- Snellen eye chart – This one isn’t so new, but it certainly is painless. The same old eye chart you used in school, it’s the primary and most basic method for examining your vision.
- Vision profiler – This technology produces an in-depth vision profile, like a fingerprint for your eye. It can allow your doctor to determine how you see differently during the day versus at night.
- Digital retinal scan – This tool scans the retina and provides your doctor with an image of the interior of your eye. Dilation isn’t necessary for this process, which means no light sensitivity or difficulty focusing afterwards.
- Lens profiler – This is a digital lens measuring tool that evaluates your current prescription, determines your new, more accurate prescription and can even replicate a before and after vision example.
- Clarifye℠ – This is a digital eye exam technology available from LensCrafters that establishes the curvature of your cornea and takes as little as one minute.
Who Should Get an Eye Exam?
Everyone should get an annual eye exam, but they are especially important for certain populations, including children and women as well as anyone over the age of 40.
For kids, “up to 75% of school vision screenings miss vision problems,” according to the AOA. If “visual skills are lacking or not functioning properly, a child will have to work harder to learn as effectively.” Professional eye exams are recommended at six months old, three years old, before first grade and yearly after that.
Women comprise another population for whom it is important to schedule annual eye exams, as they are more likely to develop eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and dry eye disease.
Book your annual eye exam at LensCrafters. You’ll find friendly, knowledgeable doctors, modern technologies and a variety of frames, plus AAA members get exclusive savings on lenses, exams and more.