It is recommended that you visit an optometrist every 2 years to make sure there have been no changes in your vision. Often, patients assume this visit is to make sure they don’t need glasses all of a sudden. An optometrist will use a number of optical instruments during a routine eye examination, checking different aspects of your eyes to determine whether there have been any changes.
However, it’s also important to visit your optician for regular eye examinations, because your optometrist will be able to detect a number of potential signs of health problems. Even if you’re able to see clearly, an eye examination can pick up potential signs of health issues that can then be treated effectively.
If you’re due an eye examination soon, here are some of the health problems that an optometrist can detect.
Cataracts most commonly affect people aged sixty-five or more. When the clear lens of your eye clouds over, we refer to it as a cataract. Globally, it is the main cause of blindness.
There are various types, including subcapsular cataracts, nuclear cataracts, and cortical cataracts.
Surgery can successfully treat the condition. A surgeon removes the natural lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens. It is a straightforward operation. The patient goes home on the same day.
However, the symptoms of cataracts can often go unnoticed because the changes in your vision happen so slowly. Your optometrist would detect it straight away during a routine eye examination. The examination includes a visual acuity test, a retinal exam, and a slit lamp test.
Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye. There are several different types – some rarer than others. Some types progress very slowly, while others can appear suddenly.
Many people have glaucoma and don’t know it until they undergo an eye examination. The condition typically affects the person’s outer vision first.
If there is a family history of glaucoma, your risk of developing it is greater. You should, therefore, get your eyes tested once a year.
Glaucoma can damage the optical nerve, and if left untreated, the patient can go blind. However, there are eye-drops that reduce the pressure within the eye and stop the progression of the condition.
When diabetes is in its early stages, there are few clear signs. Diabetic retinopathy, an eye condition, is closely linked to diabetes, and is something that your optometrist can detect during a routine eye examination.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood sugar damages the retina (back of the eye). If left untreated or undiagnosed, it can cause blindness. However, its progression is extremely slow.
If you suffer from diabetic retinopathy, you need to monitor your blood sugar levels carefully, as well as your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. You must also go to all your diabetic eye screening appointments.
4. High blood pressure
During a routine eye examination, your optometrist may be able to tell if you have high blood pressure. When looking at the retina of your eye, he or she can tell if your blood vessels have thickened, narrowed, or burst.
Many people discover they have high blood pressure during an eye examination. This can be particularly helpful for younger individuals who suffer from hypertension, don’t know it, and are unlikely to have their blood pressure checked by their GP (general practitioner). Hypertension means high blood pressure.
5. Cardiovascular problems
Cardiovascular disease is a general term for conditions that affect your heart and/or blood vessels. It includes, for example, coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and aortic disease.
By attending a regular eye examination, your optometrist can spot symptoms such as a white ring around the cornea, which can be a sign of high cholesterol. They may also detect lumps of cholesterol in the blood vessels of your eyes.
If you’re due for a visit to your local optician, don’t put it off; it could very well save your life!