Eye Diseases Your Optometrist Can Discover Early with Regular Eye Exams
Have you ever wondered why regular eye exams matter so much, even when you aren’t experiencing any troubling eye or vision symptoms? Comprehensive eye exams–not to be confused with simple vision screenings–are performed by optometrists. These exams assess the health of your eyes and check for early signs of a range of conditions that can affect your vision.
Here are five conditions that you can catch early through regular eye exams to prevent serious consequences.
Millions of Americans over the age of 40 suffer from glaucoma, yet many don’t even know that they have the condition. Glaucoma is particularly difficult to detect because it presents no noticeable symptoms in the early stages, but it can cause irreversible vision loss over time.
The most common form of glaucoma occurs when the tissues in the eye become less efficient at draining fluid, allowing pressure within the eye to rise to dangerous levels. The good news is that early detection and treatment can prevent most vision loss, so regular eye exams are key.
Diabetes and the high blood glucose levels that it causes can lead to multiple serious health issues, including vision problems. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most overlooked effects of diabetes, whether type 1, type 2, or gestational.
This condition damages the blood vessels in the retina and can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated promptly. Because diabetic retinopathy can cause irreversible damage over time, regular exams are essential. It’s also vital to control the symptoms of diabetes, including by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is the number-one cause of vision loss in individuals over 60. This common eye disease affects the retina and results in blind spots and distorted vision.
It’s essential not to ignore symptoms, such as the distortion of lines or dark, empty, or blurry spots in your field of vision. Early detection of macular degeneration is vital because there are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease and even prevent severe vision loss. Potential treatments include vitamin therapy, laser therapy, and anti-angiogenic drugs.
Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss. Fortunately, catching this condition early can help prevent blindness. Cataracts, which are caused by clouding of the lens in the eye, develop slowly over time. Although they can occur at any age, they are far more common in older individuals.
Catching cataracts early with regular eye exams could be the difference between vision loss and successful treatment. Besides keeping your regular eye appointments, be sure to consult your eye doctor if you notice symptoms such as excessive glare, halos around headlights and other bright lights, color dullness, or a continually-changing prescription.
Last but not least, regular eye exams can uncover nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. These problems are not always as easy to detect yourself as you might think: your vision might change so gradually that you don’t notice it, and children may not know that there is anything abnormal about the way they see–or if they do, they may not be able to verbalize it.
Regular eye exams reveal these and other problems so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.