Healthy Eyes with the Help of Optometrists

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You visit your doctor and dentist for regular checkups, right? It is also important to get regular checkups for your eyes. If your eyes are healthy, all it takes is an annual exam to keep them healthy. Your optometrist will do a thorough eye exam and adjust your eyeglasses or contact prescription, if needed, to keep your vision sharp.

Annual prevention is key for prevention of eye disease. Problems can be caught early, before they grow into serious illnesses. For example, an eye exam provides insight as to your body’s vascular (blood vessel) health. Amazingly, your eyes are the only place in your body where a doctor can see your vessels in a non-invasive way. The optometrist can see your blood vessels in your retina, and the health of these blood vessels can give clues about certain undiagnosed conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

It’s even more important to see your optometrist if you’ve already been diagnosed with a vision problem or with eye disease. If you have symptoms like blurry vision or pain in your eye, schedule an appointment. Don’t wait. These symptoms, as well as squinting or headaches, can be signs of eye issues.

The older you get, the more important it is to see an optometrist. The age-related condition known as macular degeneration affects people over age 40. It is a very common eye disease, and early detection is crucial. Hypertension and heredity are risk factors, as is having a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity is also a factor. If you are a senior and have any of these conditions, you are considered high risk for macular degeneration. Diet and nutrition definitely play a role, and your optometrist can prescribe special eye vitamins and nutrients to reverse the problem. Unchecked macular degeneration quickly leads to irreversible vision loss, so it is imperative to catch it early on. Unfortunately, there are no early symptoms; people tend to have decline in vision in one or both eyes, and by that time, it’s too late. Regular optometry checks can keep macular degeneration in check.

Kids need to start seeing optometrists early on if they experience vision problems. An optometrist can see a child as young as 6 months old. Optometrists are trained in eye development and can examine your child for appropriate eye function and proper eye and vision development. Many kids reach school age and have undiagnosed eye issues which are mistaken for learning disabilities. Get your child’s eyes checked early so that any vision issue is identified before your child starts kindergarten.

Here are all the important examinations an optometrist can do for you:

  • Examine your eyes for any vision problems
  • Detect and diagnose any eye diseases
  • Treat eye injuries
  • Prescribe glasses or contact lenses for vision correction
  • Perform certain surgical procedures
  • Prescribe medications
  • Perform other eye tests to determine your ability to focus and coordinate the eye
  • Perform depth perception tests
  • Perform color blindness tests
  • Regularly diagnose other diseases based on eye vessel examinations
  • Coordinate care with your family physician and other medical professionals

Optometrists are medical professionals who focus on regular vision care. They prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses. They complete four years of training and earn the Doctor of Optometry (O.D. – Oculus Doctor) degree. In order to practice, they also must pass a national licensing exam administered by the National Board of Examiners In Optometry (NBEO). Optometrists also take significant continuing education courses to stay current with the latest in eye diseases and eye care.

It is important to choose the right eye doctor for your needs. Referrals from other doctors and friends and family are often a great way to find a doctor. If you need a routine vision exam, you’ll have lots of choices. If you need something more specific, let’s say a doctor who specializes in macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, you will need to take extra time to get a good referral. Most of all, choose a doctor whom you like and trust.

Unfortunately, many individuals don’t see an optometrist until they experience a vision problem. The person might experience blurry vision or start having trouble seeing at night. Don’t wait until you have a problem. See an optometrist at least once a year, even if you don’t have any symptoms or problems. Many eye issues are asymptomatic. Early detection is the key to a long life of eye health. As you age, your optometrist will check for all age-related conditions, so it is important to have that annual history to refer back to.

When was the last time you had a vision check? It’s probably been too long, so call your optometrist today to schedule an appointment.

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