We failed the kindergarten eye chart test which prompted the hunt to figure out what happened to our eyesight. It took more than a year to figure out. These days it’s not as difficult to determine the causes of visual impairment because science has come a long way. You can get gene tests that can tell you (in most cases) what happened to your eyesight – but it usually starts with something as simple as a trip to your ophthalmologist.
Those of us in the visually impaired community know our opthamologist pretty well. Kemi (who we collaborated with on the Love is Blind collection) mentioned that she goes often to “keep an eye” on her eye health because visual impairment runs in her family. We also go often to monitor our condition. But you don’t have to be losing your sight to go see an eye doctor, as a matter of fact you should go no matter how excellent your vision is.
WHY ARE EYE EXAMS IMPORTANT?
An eye exam is good for more than just getting a new prescription for your glasses or contacts. Eye doctors routinely check your eyes for common (or in our case, uncommon) diseases and see how your eyes work as a unit. They will look at your eyes as an indicator of overall health.
WHAT IS MY EYE DOCTOR LOOKING FOR?
Your doctor will be on the lookout for conditions such as amblyopia or strabismus and making sure both eyes are working and aligned. They will be sure to check you for eye diseases that have few telltale symptoms early on. Doctors check both the outside and inside (don’t be alarmed, it’s not invasive) of your eyes for diseases such as glaucoma or diabetic eye disease. The “numbing” drops can make your eyes feel weird for a few minutes but the discomfort is totally worth it.
Believe it or not, an eye exam can help doctors detect non-eye related diseases by looking at your eye’s vessels, retina and more. If you are developing high cholesterol or high blood pressure, an eye doctor can let you know. Did you know that 1 in 3 Americans with diabetes are unaware of their illness. For example, diabetes can cause small blood vessel leaks or hard-to-notice bleeding of the eye. Your eye doctor might detect before your physician does.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GO?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends all adults get a baseline eye exam before the age of 40. If your family has a history of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure or a history of eye diseases, you should try and go soon and often. For those aged 65 and over, consider making the trip to an ophthalmologist a yearly event.