You probably see your primary care physician once a year, and your dentist twice a year. But how often do you see your eye doctor? Vision is the most valued of the five senses, and yet Americans don’t seem to be making regular eye exams a priority.
These annual exams allow your doctor to detect changes in the front of your eye so alterations can be made to your eyeglass or contact lens prescription. However, your doctor also needs to look at the back of your eye, the retina, to check that it is healthy and not damaged or showing signs of disease. Many eye diseases, if detected early, can be treated successfully without total vision loss.
A comprehensive eye exam is a type of medical check up – it is not just a vision assessment. Eye care professionals can diagnose everything from glaucoma and cataracts to high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even neurologic conditions such as brain tumors and multiple sclerosis.
Annual eye and vision exams are very affordable with a Direct Vision Benefits vision insurance plan.
The most common eye condition is refractive error or in layman's terms the need to correct the vision of the eye with glasses, contacts, or laser surgery.
The three most common refractive errors are myopia (nearsightedness) which affects an estimated 25% of the population, hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism (an uneven curvature of the cornea that causes a distortion in vision) which affects an estimated 53-63% of the population.
Presbyopia, which is the age-related loss of accommodation (resulting in the need for bifocals), starts between the ages of 38-45 years, and affects virtually 100% of the population by around 50 years. It is estimated that 52% of the US population wears corrective lenses.
Half of all blindness can be prevented, yet the number of people suffering vision loss continues to increase. Having an annual eye exam is crucial in protecting your and your family’s eyesight.
Cataracts (loss of clarity of the lens inside the eye) is estimated to affect 42% of individuals between the ages of 52-64 years. However, only about 5% of these people suffer significant loss of vision. Nearly everyone develops some degree of cataracts by age 75-85 years. Cataracts, if caught early are surgically removed, generally as an outpatient with outstanding results.
Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve is damaged in a characteristic pattern. This can permanently damage vision in the affected eye(s) and lead to blindness if left untreated. It is normally associated with increased fluid pressure in the eye.
Macular Degeneration is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. Macular Degeneration destroys sharp, central vision. The loss of central vision impedes your ability to perform common tasks such as:
Vision loss dramatically reduces your quality of life, making Macular Dengeneration one of the most devastating and disabling conditions.
The eyes are more than a “window to the soul” but a window to general physical health. And the good news is that exams are relatively inexpensive and painless – so please consider making them part of your yearly health maintenance routine.