We’ve all seen those studies where Colorado ranks as one of the top states for health and fitness, but we still have room for improvement when it comes to individual health maintenance. Even in our state of pretty healthy residents annual comprehensive eye exams are often skipped.
However, going to this annual appointment can be very helpful for maintaining good health. Most people don’t know that an eye doctor can detect eye health and general health issues before they present symptoms. The ability for optometrists to detect these health issues early is impacting Colorado residents of all ages.
The truth is that eye disorders and vision loss have a monetary burden and below is a breakdown of the financial costs for Colorado by age group*:
- 0-17 years: $95 million
- 18-39 years: $375 million
- 40-64 years: $560 million
- 65+ years: $2.85 billion
* Prevent Blindness, 2013, NORC at the University of Chicago. The analysis includes all medical costs and estimated productivity loss for eye disorders and vision loss. The study did not include a monetary value for disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost. The researchers indicated however that had they assumed a value of just $50,000 per DALY, the economic burden in the US would increase to a total of $153 billion.
Many eye diseases and health issues that an eye doctor can detect through a comprehensive eye exam are correctable or manageable with early detection. The financial impact and prominence of eye health issues can be reduced by getting an annual comprehensive exam.
5 Signs You Need a Comprehensive Eye Exam
- You Have No Symptoms & Haven’t Had an Annual Exam
Even if you don’t have symptoms or vision changes, an annual comprehensive eye exam is a great way to keep up on your health and get a head start on any issues that may pop up before symptoms arise.
Just because you don’t have any symptoms does NOT mean you should skip your annual comprehensive eye exam. Many vision threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy have no or minimal symptoms until the disease has progressed. Early detection is key to slowing progress, managing disease, and saving vision.
Optometrists look at a lot more than just your vision acuity in a comprehensive exam and can even detect other health issues such as; autoimmune conditions, allergies, medication complications, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and more.
- You Have a Health Condition
If you have a health condition that impacts your eyes like diabetes, high blood pressure or an autoimmune condition it’s important to stay on top of your annual eye exam in case any complications arise. Getting a comprehensive eye exam can help you stay on top of vision challenges and prevent further health challenges.
- Changes in Vision
If you feel your vision is changing and suddenly you can’t read signs or small print, then it may be a good indication that you need glasses. An optometrist is just the person to investigate vision acuity issues and other health issues that could be causing this. If you have had changes in vision due to head trauma, optometrists advise you to get a comprehensive eye exam as soon as possible.
Everyone should note that it’s common to have a change in vision around the age of 40 that requires the aid of glasses, contacts or a change in prescription.
- Frequent Headaches with Pain Around the Eyes
Headaches can occur due to your eye muscles straining to focus. This type of headache usually occurs at the front of the head and/or the temples. The use of glasses can help reduce or eliminate these headaches.
- Dry Eyes
Experiencing dry eyes doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it can lead to blurry vision or reflexive tearing. If your dry eyes are accompanied by redness or discharge that needs immediate attention from an optometrist.
Can I Just Get a Quick Screening?
A vision screening is simply a tool used to determine if you should see an eye doctor for a comprehensive exam and can be ineffective at detecting potential eye health issues. A vision screening does not diagnose any vision issues and does not replace a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist. This means if you or your child have only been getting vision screenings then you will want to schedule a comprehensive exam soon.
What Can I Expect at an Eye Exam?
A comprehensive eye exam usually takes 30-60 minutes and is performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
A Comprehensive Eye Exam Includes:
The doctor will collect information on your health, family, and vision history along with current medications and symptoms. They will clarify your chief concerns.
Visual Acuity Testing
Testing for your vision with and without glasses.
Testing eye pressures, screening for side vision, color vision, stereo acuity, pupil reactions, eye teaming and tracking.
Measuring the shape of the cornea.
Checking the power of the glasses needed.
Eye Health Evaluation
Evaluating the health of the front of the eye and inside the eye.
Further Potential Testing Available
Based on the findings of the comprehensive vision exam further testing may be required to more accurately diagnose and treat conditions such as: Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, Dry Eye, Allergies, Oculomotor Dysfunction and Binocular Vision issues.