We all know the importance of physical exams for ourselves and our loved ones, yet many of us put a comprehensive eye exam on the back burner. If that sounds like you, you could risk your health by waiting to have your vision checked.
You might not realize that these eye exams do more than watch for deteriorating eyesight. Your optometrist is trained to look for signs that something is going on behind the scenes, like diabetes, glaucoma, or even heart problems.
Yes, even the CDC recommends regular comprehensive eye exams with an eye doctor near you. The earlier your optometrist finds the symptoms of eye disease, the easier it is to treat it.
One visit to an optometrist or ophthalmologist could change your life. It could help you prevent conditions ranging from nearsightedness to cataracts. Here are five reasons you should have regular comprehensive eye exams yearly.
1. Eye Exams Could Help Your Child’s Success in School
Is your child struggling in school, and nothing seems to be helping them? The problem could be due to a vision disorder.
More than one out of twenty preschool-aged children have eyesight issues. This number skyrockets to one in four by the time they’re in elementary, middle, or high school.
Since so much of the information we receive in our education is presented visually, missing sensory stimuli is significant because of a vision sensory disruption. Experts from the American Optometric Association recommend that children begin having eye exams at six months old, then again at age three, and once yearly after that.
Catching vision disorders early gives the child a better chance to have their eyesight corrected back to the optimal 20/20.
If your child is in the public school system, they must have a vision screening each year performed by someone in the school. However, specialists don’t always complete these, and they typically miss around 80% of vision issues. A comprehensive eye exam is vital to help your child avoid serious vision impairments that may affect their education and future success.
2. Nearsightedness is Reaching Epidemic Rates
Researchers are concerned about the rise in nearsightedness, officially called myopia, in today’s generation of young ones.
When you have myopia, you can see up-close objects, so you can read a book or use your phone. But seeing things in the distance isn’t as easy. If a teacher writes on the board, a child with myopia doesn’t see it clearly. And if you’re driving with nearsightedness, you may not see important obstacles in front of you until you can’t avoid them.
The rise of myopia is linked with the change in behavior in children. Now, a child is more likely to stay inside throughout most of the day, watching TV or playing on their phone. They aren’t exposed to activities where daylight is the main visual illuminator, and this can have a detrimental effect on their eyesight.
The spike in myopia diagnoses rose from 25% in the 1970s to almost 42% today. Luckily, this visual problem is easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses, but it may take a comprehensive eye exam to catch the problem.
3. School Vision Screenings Aren’t Enough
We touched on the fact that school vision screenings are required but not enough to catch over 80% of vision screenings. Here, we’ll explain more about the facts behind this claim.
The goal of a school vision screening is to test for visual acuity. This is one factor in eyesight, but only a small piece of the overall picture. Visual acuity refers to how sharp one’s eyesight is. We as humans need 16 other visual skills to be successful, including depth perception (awareness) and peripheral vision. One out of 17 visual factors isn’t nearly enough to get an accurate idea of your child’s visual abilities.
Since the individuals completing the screenings aren’t likely to be licensed as eye-care professionals, they won’t always catch the signs a specialist would. And with a critical labor shortage in schools across the country, there’s no standard for who is providing your child’s screening.
Take the vision screening results with a grain of salt. A comprehensive eye exam is the only way to find out if your child truly has a vision disorder, needs vision therapy from an eye care professional, or could have early signs of visual problems.
In fact, if your child has been diagnosed with ADD, it could simply be that they have a binocular disorder. When children struggle to follow the words in a book or get tired easily while reading, they tend to act out more. Misdiagnoses of ADD are common when a child has an undiagnosed vision disorder.
4. The Exams Screen for Glaucoma
Glaucoma is the term that refers to a group of problems that damage the optic nerve, typically from increased pressure in the eye. The optic nerve is the pathway that carries signals from the retina to the brain and produces information that “tells” you what you see.
This optic nerve damage worsens over time, ultimately leading to vision loss or blindness if not treated.
Screenings for glaucoma include a comprehensive list of tests. You’ll receive an eye angle and dilated eye exam, corneal thickness measurement and comparison over time, and other imaging studies from an optometrist.
5. Other Serious Health Problems Might Be Caught With an Annual Eye Exam
As if keeping your vision protected wasn’t enough to convince you, eye exams do even more! Your optometrist may be the first person to diagnose early signs of a serious health condition, and if you get treatment immediately, you could prevent its progression.
Visual disturbances are symptoms of certain medical disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. They may also detect certain types of cancer early.
An hour or so out of your day once a year for a comprehensive eye exam may be a game-changer for your overall health. Your eye doctor will monitor the appearance of your retinal blood vessels and blood supply and let you know if there is any reason for concern.
This is particularly crucial for those at risk for diabetes or who currently have the diagnosis. The disease is the leading cause of blindness in adult Americans.
Schedule an Eye Exam Today
Ready to take charge of your visual and overall health? Rancho Santa Fe Optometry provides comprehensive eye exams for infants through adults. Contact our team to schedule a comprehensive examination to diagnose and treat any visual disorders in you or your loved ones.