Did you know that an estimated 1.3 billion people around the world have some sort of visual impairment?
And according to WHO, 80% of visual impairment cases are avoidable.
In the U.S. alone, an estimated 7,675,600 people had some form of visual disability in 2016.
There are also 38 million adults aged 40 and older who experience blindness, have low vision, or have an age-related eye disease. And come 2050, experts say this could go up to 50 million.
These are no doubt scary statistics, but as WHO said, many of these eye problems are avoidable. And routine vision screening is among the most effective ways to keep your eyes healthy. An eye exam could even tell you if your cholesterol levels have gone up.
The question is, how exactly does a yearly vision test benefit you? Why is it so important to see your eye doctor at least once a year?
We’ll address all these questions in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
Some Eye Diseases Can Occur Without Symptoms
Or at least, they could be painless or their symptoms don’t show up early. Since you don’t feel anything yet, this might make you think that your eyes are still in great condition. You might not notice any changes in your vision until after the disease has advanced.
Glaucoma, a disease that affects the optic nerve and can occur in people of all ages, is one example. Its most common form, known as open-angle glaucoma, is often painless. This is why you can have it but still be unaware that it’s already stealing your vision.
By the time it does affect your vision, the damage could already be permanent. And today, over 3 million Americans suffer from this eye disease.
Left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss. Early detection, on the other hand, can help preserve your eyesight.
This alone already proves the importance of vision testing. With routine eye exams, your ophthalmologist will know right away if you do have glaucoma. And if you do, your eye doctor can immediately come up with a treatment plan to keep it from progressing.
You May Have Only One “Good Eye”
Dry macular degeneration causes blurry or reduced central vision. Sometimes though, its development begins in only one eye. In this case, no vision change may happen yet, since the good eye compensates for the weaker one.
Since you might not notice any vision issues, you might think that your eyes are still good. As the disease progresses though, you may start experiencing visual distortions. You’ll have a harder time reading small-sized texts, especially in low light conditions.
Although dry macular degeneration doesn’t have a cure yet, there are ways to slow its progression. And it starts with a vision screening test to determine if you have the disease. This way, your ophthalmologist can provide you a custom FDA-approved macular degeneration treatment.
You can also eat more omega-3 fatty acids and foods high in antioxidants. Scientists say that they can help prevent or even hinder the disease’s progression.
It May Take Years for Cataracts to Become Obvious
Many people think that cataracts always come with the visible whitish or cloudy layer on the eye. However, this cloudiness usually takes years to develop and become obvious.
Moreover, the cloudiness may target only a small part of the lens of the eyes. In its early stages, you might not notice any vision distortion or loss at all.
All these can then lead you to believe that you don’t have cataracts. The thing is, there are seven types of cataracts, and only eye exams can discover their presence early on.
By getting an annual eye exam, your eye doctor can detect if you have it right away. From there, your Ophthalmologist can develop the right cataract treatment plan for you. Depending on how far along the disease is, they may recommend you to get laser cataract surgery.
Some Eye Problems Don’t Discriminate Against Age
In fact, many of us could even have been born with some of these vision disorders, such as in the case of astigmatism.
In people with astigmatism, blurry vision is the most common complaint. It can also be more of “seeing double,” but in only either the left or the right eye.
Astigmatism can also lead to secondary problems, such as headaches and eyestrain. These usually happen with the extra effort spent on trying to see better or focus on blurry objects.
Furthermore, astigmatism is a life-long condition that could worsen over time. Also, it’s not preventable, as it appears to be a hereditary condition.
The good news is, it is treatable. And the first step to keep it from getting worse is to undergo an eye exam. Through accurate diagnosis, your eye doctor can correct your astigmatism.
Your Genes May Put You at a Higher Risk for Eye Problems
This may come as a surprise, but there are actually more than 350 eye diseases that have to do with genes! Aside from astigmatism, you can also inherit color blindness, night blindness, and albinism. Glaucoma and corneal dystrophies could also be hereditary eye diseases.
But even if you can’t do much about your genetic make-up, it doesn’t mean you should just live with these eye problems. Some of them are curable, others are treatable, and many are manageable. However, the first step to cope with these conditions is through proper diagnosis.
That’s why you should go in for routine eye exams so your doctor can detect these problems early on. Even if they’re not preventable, you could at least keep their symptoms from worsening. Proper treatment could also prevent many eye diseases from progressing.
Eye Floaters May Be a Sign of Serious Eye Injuries
Most people will experience eye floaters at some point in their lives. In many cases, these tiny specks or wispy-looking threads are more of a bother than a danger. Moreover, they usually don’t cause pain and they also disappear on their own in a few weeks.
However, not all eye floaters are a simple nuisance, nor will they go away. In some cases, these specks can actually be very small droplets of blood within the inside lining of the eye. A serious eye injury could cause this type of floater.
Whenever there’s bleeding in the eye, there’s a greater risk of vision loss.
The only way to determine the root cause of floaters is through careful eye screening. This is why you should schedule an eye exam if you’ve suddenly started seeing these floaters.
Even if the test reveals that you don’t have an injury, the eye doctor can still give you treatment for the floaters. And in case there is an injury, your doctor can administer the correct treatment right away. The sooner you get treated, the lower the risks of significant vision loss.
Specks in the Eyes Can Also Be a Sign of Retinal Detachment
Speaking of specks in the eyes, it can also result from retinal detachment. It sounds painful, but it’s not, although it is a type of eye emergency.
This occurs when the retina at the back of the eye gets pulled away from its normal spot. But that spot is the location of the blood vessels that supply the retina with oxygen and nutrients. So, if the retina separates from these vessels, it won’t receive any nourishment.
The longer the retina remains detached from these blood vessels, the more damage it takes. This, in turn, heightens your risk of suffering from permanent vision loss.
This is another reason you should never ignore those floaters in your eyes. The sooner you schedule an eye exam, the greater chances you have of preserving your eyesight.
Regular Eye Exams Allow Your Doctor to Catch a Detached Vitreous Gel Early On
Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is an eye problem that usually occurs with aging. Like glaucoma, it can occur without any symptoms. In some cases though, it can cause floaters and bleeding.
Except for the bleeding part, you may think that your floaters are normal. But PVD can cause permanent loss of vision if it results from the vitreous gel pulling away from the retina. This could then cause a tear in the retina or it may even puncture the eye nerve.
This once again shows how important routine vision screening is. It allows your eye doctor to monitor any changes to your vitreous gel and the retina. This way, in case PVD does occur, your ophthalmologist can treat it right away.
Your Use of Digital Devices Could Rob You of Your Eyesight
Today, the average American spends more than 11 hours a day interacting with media. That includes watching and reading, especially from mobile devices.
This rise in the use of digital devices has led to more people suffering from digital eye strain. Estimates suggest that 50% or more of computer users experience computer vision syndrome. From sore to tired and dry eyes to blurry vision and headaches, DES is making our eyes go bad a lot sooner.
If you’re part of the 90% of Americans who are Internet users, you need to pay more attention to your eyes. Digital eye strain can put you at greater risk of vision issues, so you should see your eye doctor at least once a year. This way, your doctor can check for any serious vision problems that DES could bring about.
Vision Screening Can Also Help Discover Chronic Diseases
One of the most amazing things about the eyes is how they can tell doctors that a person has high cholesterol. They can also hint at high blood pressure, liver disease, and certain blood diseases. They can even point out the possibility of diabetes and cancer.
And all it takes to detect these chronic health conditions is an eye exam. The eyes, after all, are the only place that gives doctors a full view of the blood vessels without surgery. By peeking into your eyes, they can see if there are any restricted, punctured, or blocked vessels.
All of these can then point out to the existence of chronic and life-threatening diseases. And in case your ophthalmologist spots any of them, they can point you to the right specialist.
This is why you should pay your eye doctor regular visits even if you have perfect vision. This way, you can keep not just your eyes healthy, but the rest of your body too.
The Eyes Can Say a Lot About One’s Mental State
Paying your eye doctor regular visits can also help keep your mental health in check.
You’ve likely heard of the saying “the eyes are the windows to the soul”. It turns out that this phrase holds some truth to it. More studies are discovering how the eyes can hint at psychological problems.
For instance, scientists believe that abnormal eye movements could indicate schizophrenia. That’s because people who have it often can’t focus their eyes on objects that move slowly.
Another study suggests that abnormal eye movements could indicate depressive disorders. The study found that depressive patients had much more significant abnormal eye movements.
As you can see, the eyes can really say a lot about one’s mental health. Through routine eye testing, you can also keep your mental well-being as healthy as the rest of your body.
Regular Eye Exams May Save Your Life
There you have it, your ultimate guide on how important yearly vision screening is. It won’t just benefit your eyes — your brain and the rest of your body will also benefit from it. An eye exam may even serve as the key to finding out if you have chronic illnesses.
That’s why the Ophthalmologist is the one doctor you shouldn’t skip a visit to. Besides, you may only have to see your eye doctor once a year if your eyes are in good condition. And you can keep it this way if you follow your doctor’s eye care recommendations.
Ready to bring clarity and brightness back to your eyes? Then please don’t hesitate to connect with us now. The sooner you schedule an eye exam, the sooner you can enjoy optimal vision.