Vision, one of our five senses, is perhaps the most relied upon in our daily lives. For this reason, eye health is essential. Vision is one of the most delicate systems in the human body, so any unusual symptoms or sensations should be brought to the attention of an eye care professional immediately to ensure proper treatment and continued function.
At De Jongh Optometry, we strive to provide comprehensive, primary eye care for the whole family. Preventative and routine eye exams are important to maintaining good eye health. Often, eye and vision problems do not have obvious symptoms or signs, but are easily diagnosed by a licensed optometrist. By diagnosing eye and vision conditions early on, our optometrist is able to provide treatment options and, in many cases, restore vision or prevent vision loss.
THE REASONS TO SEE YOUR OPTOMETRIST
Many “silent” diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetes, can only be detected through regular eye exams. When these conditions are discovered earlier rather than later, they become easier to treat or manage, allowing for better long-term preservation of eyesight.
In addition, reading glasses from the drugstore often do not work well because most people have astigmatism and/or different prescriptions in each eye. As a result, many of these individuals experience persistent eye fatigue and headaches. Forgoing the eye exam also sacrifices the opportunity to screen for treatable diseases, as mentioned above.
EYE EXAM AND CONSULTATION
During an eye exam, our optometrists will ask you questions about any symptoms or issues you are experiencing, medications you are currently taking, any blurry vision, your work environment, and your overall health. Family history and previous eye or vision conditions will also be discussed during this part of the examination. This information will be considered when determining any treatments or recommendations.
Regular vision testing and evaluations ensure that you always have the clearest vision possible. Vision acuity tests forms part of a comprehensive eye exam. Our optoms will measure how each eye is seeing by using a wall eye chart and a reading eye chart. The results of these tests are portrayed as a fraction, with 20/20 being the standard for normal distance and reading vision. Depending on the results of your vision test, our optoms may prescribe corrective glasses, contacts, or eye exercises.
EYE FUNCTION TESTING
Our optometrist performs several tests to evaluate depth perception, color vision, eye muscle capabilities, peripheral vision, and responsiveness to light. Several other simple tests are completed to determine whether the eyes are focusing, moving, and working together properly. The test results enable the optometrists to diagnose any underlying conditions that may be impairing the eyes ability to focus or work together.
The overall health of the eye is checked through a visual examination and tonometry. Eye health is evaluated by visually inspecting the eye and eyelids using magnification and a bright light. To examine the internal structures of the eye, we may dilate the pupils. Increased eye pressure may be an indicator of glaucoma, so we utilize tonometry to measure eye pressure. After completing these short tests, the results are reviewed and discussed with you.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO GET AN EYE EXAM
Just like visits to the dentists, your eyes deserve annual check-ups to ensure that your vision and eye health is in top condition.
It’s as important to get preventative care for our eyes as for our teeth, and that means getting eye exams when we don’t need an updated prescription for our glasses or contact lenses. Human eyes are incredibly complex organs with many ways for something to go wrong. Regular eye exams are how we ensure that problems are caught early — the best time to catch them.
WHEN SHOULD I HAVE AN EYE EXAM
Each patient’s ideal eye exam schedule depends on their age and any risk factors they have. Broadly, we recommend that children get their first eye exam around six months old, their second around their third birthday, and another before they start first grade.
Early childhood eye exams are critical for catching, diagnosing, and treating vision problems that can seriously interfere with their learning. A shocking number of these eye conditions go undiagnosed (including by the school nurse, who is no substitute for an optometrist)
For older kids and adults, eye exams every two years is usually enough until about age 60. Beyond that, we’d like to see our patients once a year. However, some cases are different and require more frequent appointments within these age groups.
RISK FACTORS FOR EYE DISEASE
A major risk factor is a family history of glaucoma, macular degeneration, or other eye diseases — or even a family history of hypertension or diabetes. Certain medications can cause dry eye as a side effect, which is a risk factor for some eye problems. It’s important to keep track of such side effects so that they don’t develop into major discomfort or even eye infections.
A risk factor that can be controlled is a smoking habit. Smoking dramatically raises the risk of most sight-threatening eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. Another controllable risk factor is UV exposure. The damage the sun does to our eyes is cumulative over the course of our lives, and we can minimize it by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses (and maybe adding a wide-brimmed hat too) whenever we’re outside or driving in daylight.
EYE PROBLEMS DON’T FOLLOW APPOINTMENTS AND SCHEDULES
While the recommended eye exam schedule is great in times when you aren’t experiencing other problems with your vision or eye health, if an issue comes up with the next appointment still months or more than a year away, don’t wait! Come see us right away if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Sudden sensitivity to light. This could indicate an eye infection.
- Difficulty driving at night or loss of night vision. This can be a sign of vision loss.
- Blurry vision. A simple prescription update might be enough to correct this, but even if it’s that simple, why wait to fix it?
- Frequent headaches. These are often connected to eye problems, such as digital eye strain.
- Bright flashes, peripheral vision loss, or an increase in floaters. These are symptoms of retinal detachment, which can mean permanent blindness if it isn’t treated very quickly. Phone your nearest Eye hospital for an emergency appointment.