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December 4, 2013: Why Eye Exams are Important

Why Are Eye Exams Important?
Regardless of your age or physical health, it’s important to have regular eye exams. During a complete eye exam, your eye doctor will not only determine your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses, but will also check your eyes for common eye diseases, assess how your eyes work together as a team and evaluate your eyes as an indicator of your overall health.

Who should get their eyes examined?
Eye examinations are an important part of health maintenance for everyone. Adults should have their eyes tested to keep their prescriptions current and to check for early signs of eye disease. For children, eye exams can play an important role in normal development. Vision is closely linked to the learning process. Children who have trouble seeing or interpreting what they see will often have trouble with their schoolwork. Many times, children will not complain of vision problems simply because they don't know what "normal" vision looks like. If your child performs poorly at school or exhibits a reading or learning problem, be sure to schedule an eye examination to rule out an underlying visual cause.

What is the eye doctor checking for?
In addition to evaluating whether you have nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, your eye doctor will check your eyes for eye diseases and other problems that could lead to vision loss. Some of the eye diseases that your eye doctor is looking for are amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (cross eye), glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Your eye doctor will check the health of your eyes inside and out for signs of early problems. In most cases, early detection and treatment of eye diseases can help reduce your risk for permanent vision loss.

Your eye doctor can also detect early signs of some systemic conditions and diseases by looking at your eye's blood vessels, retina and so forth. Eye doctors may be able to tell you if you are developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other problems.

For example, diabetes can cause small blood vessel leaks or bleeding in the eye, as well as swelling of the macula (the most sensitive part of the retina), which can lead to vision loss. It’s estimated that one-third of Americans who have diabetes don't know it; your eye doctor may detect the disease before your primary care physician does, especially if you're overdue for a physical.

Remember check yearly, see clearly!