Why You Should Consider a Yearly Eye Exam

Annual exams may offer early detection of other health problems

Looking through glasses at eye chart

Your next trip to the ophthalmologist could reveal more than a vision problem. It turns out, you can find out a lot about your health during an eye exam. Ophthalmologist Rishi Singh, MD, says diseases and other issues may show up when you have your eyes checked.

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What your eye exam could reveal

Dr. Rishi says a simple eye exam could reveal signs of:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Lymphoma

“We can pick up things like diabetes and high blood pressure, but now we’re realizing changes in the retinal nerve fiber layer over time is a good way to monitor MS. It’s one of the ways neurologists are starting to use ophthalmic techniques and technologies with their patients. By the same token, we’ve seen strokes in the eye that are associated with carotid artery disease, which demand serious attention as they may be a future predictor of a cerebral stroke,” Dr. Singh says.

Dr. Singh says many times, patients may have slight visual issues but it’s related to, or perhaps even being caused by a bigger health problem. Additionally, some patients may be completely asymptomatic, and an ophthalmologist can take one look into their eyes and see another story.

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“A lot of micro-vascular changes that occur with diabetes and high blood pressure don’t affect central visual acuity until very late in the disease state when people start to develop vision problems. That’s why screening is so key,” he adds.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following screening guidelines:

  • Adults with no risk factors should get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40, the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur, and have follow-up screenings at regular intervals prescribed by an ophthalmologist.
  • Adults with risk factors such as family eye diseases can be screened at any age.

Taking the precaution of regular eye exams not only protects your eyes, but also helps safeguard your overall health.

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