Importance of Yearly Eye Exams
By Dr. Jerry Robben
The Importance of Routine Eye Exams: It’s Not Just About Glasses!
The importance of a yearly eye exam is often times not realized by those who have no vision complaints or “eye problems”. Yes, in it’s most basic sense, an eye exam will address any problem with one’s vision; and those of us who are having problems seeing will seek out an eye doctor to help them. But an eye exam is more than just a need for a new pair of glasses. A comprehensive eye exam also acts as a medical evaluation of the patient’s eyes to determine if any other medical problems may be present. In essence, an eye exam is not just about glasses or contact lenses and even people who feel they have excellent vision should be routinely checked with a comprehensive eye exam including dilation.
“Your eyes are a window to the soul”. This is a tongue in cheek expression I occasionally hear from patients in the clinic; but, it’s not just an expression. Nearly every systemic disease that a person can have, can have a direct or indirect effect on a person’s eyes. Common conditions such as:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
or other Auto Immune Diseases, to name a few, can all have very serious effects on the eyes. In fact, diabetes is one of the most common causes of acquired blindness in the United States. Even many different types of cancer can start in, or migrate to, the eyes. A comprehensive eye exam with dilation can allow your eye doctor to determine if any of your systemic conditions are effecting or are at risk of affecting your eyes. In some cases the eye doctor can be the first to diagnose these systemic diseases, by seeing the early signs that can only be seen in the eyes. Without a routine eye exam those early signs would go unnoticed and the disease would go untreated until more serious signs and symptoms were noticed. Early detection of these diseases is key to the best success in their treatments for the eyes and the overall health of the patient.
A routine eye exam can also identify additional ocular diseases that these systemic conditions may contribute to. Some of these conditions can start painless with no early effects to our vision. It is impossible for a person to know that they have these conditions until later in the disease state when the vision begins to be effected or pain or irritation to the eyes presents. But far too often, at that point, it can be too late to save all of the patient’s vision or reduce their discomfort and ocular symptoms. Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration and Dry Eye Disease are examples of these ocular conditions. These conditions are usually painless and slow progressing to start and can result in decrease of vision and even blindness. In the case of Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration there can be chronic pain and in the case of Dry Eye Disease there will be vision reduction. These conditions have signs that can only be detected during eye exams. If we can find these early signs we can treat and monitor these diseases to slow, or in some cases, stop the progressive damage they can do to the eyes and vision.
A routine eye exam with dilation is recommended yearly to make sure your vision is as good as you think it is, but also to examine your eyes for any signs or symptoms of any medical conditions that can become serious later in life. Treat the yearly eye exam with the importance that it needs, not just about the glasses or contact lenses. Thorough eye exams are offered at Bowden Eye & Associates. Please give our office a call at (904) 296-0098 if you are due for an exam. Dr. Jerry Robben treats patients in our Mandarin and Northside offices.