Best Reasons to See Your Optometrist (An Eye Exam Could Help Save Your Life)

May is Vision Health Month, an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of eye health, the role optometrists play, and what can be done to help prevent vision loss. 

We often take our eyes for granted, assuming they don’t need any care from us. As optometrists, we know the importance of caring for your eyes is just as much a priority as eating healthy, exercising, and taking care of your mental health. Our eyes are complicated but delicate; your optometrist can help in a number of ways, including providing preventative care. Healthy vision can help keep you safe each day. 

A comprehensive eye exam is more than just a routine vision test – it could help save your life.

Best Reasons to See Your Optometrist (Things You Must Know)

The best way to keep your eyes healthy is getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Your optometrist will use drops to enlarge your pupils in order to check for common eye health problems and any early stages of eye-related diseases. Of course, an eye exam is also the best way to find out if you need contacts or glasses. 

Most people are not aware that our vision changes as we age. This makes comprehensive eye exams increasingly more important as our eyes get older. 

  • Eye Diseases are Common, but Preventative: Did you know that 1 in 7 Canadians will develop a serious eye disease in their lifetime? However, 75% of vision loss can be prevented or treated with proper care. 
  • Catching Life Threatening Conditions: Did you know, an eye exam can help detect potentially life threatening conditions, like brain tumours, high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes? Your eyes can show signs of tumors, aneurysms, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, sickle cell disease, liver disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological or brain disorders.
  • Your Eyes Change with Age: After 40, many find it is more difficult to focus on close up objects. 50s and beyond, you may have more frequent changes in your eyeglasses or contact lens prescriptions.
  • Less Tears for Women: As we age, we produce less tears which leads to dry eyes. This is particularly true for women. 9 Dry Eye Symptoms and a Wrinkle Reducing Treatment
  • Child Eye Care: Just 1 out of every 7 preschoolers receives an eye exam and fewer than 1 out of every 4 receives some type of vision screening. The CDC recommends vision screening for all children aged 3 to 5 years to help find conditions such as amblyopia, or lazy eye, which can be treated effectively if caught early.
  • Preventing Visual Issues: An estimated 11 million Americans aged 12 years and older could see better if they used corrective lenses, or had eye surgery, when appropriate.

A comprehensive eye exam can also detect potentially life threatening conditions, like brain tumours, high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

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Your Optometrist Sees More Than Your Eyes – Eye Diseases Your Optometrist Can Help Spot

Comprehensive eye exams provide optometrists a close-up look at your blood vessels, veins, and nerves, all of which may contain clues to conditions that could pose a serious risk to your health. The following are eye conditions that can cause vision loss and even blindness:

  • Cataracts, a clouding of the eyes internal lens.
  • Diabetic retinopathy, which causes damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye.
  • Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, often due to increased eye pressure.
  • Age-related macular degeneration, which gradually affects central vision and contrast sensitivity.

Is an Optometrist a Doctor?

Yes, an optometrist is a doctor of the eyes who receives a degree in optometry proceeding 8 years of education. 

What is the role of an optometrist? An optometrist is the primary health care provider for your eyes. As an eye doctor, they help detect refractive error, vision defects, symptoms of diseases, treat eye injuries, ocular abnormalities and assess your general eye health. Optometrists are equipped to provide professional advice on a wide range of subjects concerning eye health, vision correction, and prescribe vision aids such as contact lenses, glasses and other devices.

How Often Should You See An Optometrist?

Regular eye exams by a doctor of optometry play an essential role in maintaining your overall health. The frequency you should see an optometrist varies based on your age.

  • Children – first eye exam at 6 months, then again at age 2 followed by annual visits thereafter
  • Adults 19-64 – Every 1-2 years
  • 65 and over – Annually

A regular eye exam by a doctor of optometry is the best way to stay on top of eye health. 

What Are Available Optometrist Services?

There are a range of services that most optometrists provide, including:

  • Annual or routine eye exams, including providing eye health education
  • Diagnosis of eye conditions, or spot early signs of eye diseases
  • Prescriptions for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other visual aids
  • Medical treatments or minor procedures for eye conditions and injuries
  • Pre and post-surgical eye care that range from cataract removal to refractive laser correction

There are also select eye care professionals that provide speciality services. Click below to learn more:

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10 Ways to Protect Your Vision (Optometrist Recommended)

  1. Eye Exams: A regular, comprehensive, dilated eye exam by an optometrist is the best way to stay on top of eye health. 
  2. Know Your Eye Care Provider: Have a trusted eye doctor you can go to with any concern, who will guide you through your options, provide education and support your eye health needs.
  3. Understanding Your Genes: Being familiar with your family health history is important as it can provide your optometrist guidelines of what to watch for regarding signs of eye disease. If someone in your family has a history of eye disease or a condition that affects the eyes, speak to your eye doctor, as some are hereditary.
  4. Healthy Diet: Healthy eating can help protect your sight, particularly certain foods such as dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, or collard greens, and fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout, and halibut.
  5. Body Balance: Related to a healthy diet, diseases like diabetes have impacts on your eyes. Maintaining a healthy weight will help protect your vision. 
  6. Eyewear: Use protective eyewear during activities where your eyes are at risk of being injured, such as home construction projects, playing sports, yard work or renovations.
  7. Limit Digital Eye Strain: We are in front of a screen for most of our days. Extended screen time can worsen our vision at a rapid rate. 8 Tips to Prevent Digital Eyestrain | Take a Quiz
  8. Sunglasses: Not all sunglasses are created equally. Good quality sunglasses can help block 99 -100% of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.
  9. Sanitize: We touch our face and eyes many times a day without realizing it. Prior to putting on and taking out your contact lenses, wash your hands with soap and water. Be sure to clean your contact lenses properly to avoid infection.
  10. Early Intervention: For yourself, and your children, regular eye exams and early intervention are crucial in limiting changes to your vision and eye health from eye diseases.