When our vision is clear, we tend to look the other way when it comes to eye exams. But unless you get your vision examined, you really can’t see what’s coming. Seeing an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) regularly to monitor your eye health can be as important as when you see your family doctor to manage your overall health.
For people over the age of 40, regular eye exams can detect age-related causes of blindness such as macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and early signs of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health. Glaucoma can lead to blindness because there is no pain or visual disruption associated with this disease and it’s often left untreated, uncontrolled or undiagnosed. Those who are at higher risk of being visually impaired from glaucoma include African Americans over the age of 40, Hispanics over the age of 60 and people with a family history of glaucoma.
Glaucoma, which refers to a group of eye conditions that lead to damage of the optic nerve, first causes peripheral vision loss. Regular eye exams can screen for glaucoma, including testing your peripheral vision, measuring intraocular pressure and evaluating your optic nerve.
Early detection allows the eye disease to be treated immediately, which can prevent irreversible vision loss.
To ensure your eyes are healthy, have an eye exam at least every two years. The doctor will ask you about your medical history, use that familiar wall chart to measure your ability to see small details clearly and evaluate how well your eye muscle align or coordinate when working together and individually.