3 Health Benefits of Visiting an Optometrist on a Regular Basis
Annual eye exams are an important part of your health. Vision can change from year to year, requiring new prescriptions. However, your benefits don’t end there.
According to WebMD, optometrists will assess your overall eye health and test your vision. They will also inquire about symptoms related to your eyes and any complaints.
Common Eye Disorders
• Night blindness
• Amblyopia or lazy eye
• Pink eye
• Retinal disorders or macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachment
• Vision changes
Optometrists can spot early stages of diseases, including those unrelated to your eyes like cancer, diabetes, and some autoimmune disorders. For some individuals, the eye changes might be the only ones they have.
The warning signs leads most people to seek further medical help and can make a huge difference in their outcome.
1. High Blood Pressure
Hypertensive retinopathy is the name of this condition. This symptom and precursor to heart disease is common for your optometrist to detect. However, you won’t have active symptoms unless it’s progressed.
Causes of it do vary, but your genes, activity level, and diet can all play a role. In the US, one in three people will have high blood pressure. Many people have no symptoms, which makes it a silent killer.
How does your eye doctor diagnose you? They use a special scope to examine your retina. They look for signs of narrowed blood vessels, fluid, and they might dilate your eyes to perform fluorescein anglography.
Afterward, they grade their findings using the Keith-Wagener-Barker Classification system. One is the lowest outcome. Rating a four means that you’re at a high risk for stroke. It can also signal heart or kidney disease.
2. Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus
Optic neuritis is common in MS cases, but it doesn’t mean you have or will have MS. However, for many patients, the condition is the first sign of MS and lupus. Your eye doctor will likely suggest you see your primary care physician or a specialist to rule out the autoimmune disorders.
Who diagnosis optic neuritis? Your eye doctor.
Optic neuritis generally affects one eye. Symptoms include pain, seeing flashing lights, and temporary loss of vision and color. The condition can lead you to permanent vision loss if you don’t seek treatment.
MS and lupus can be direct causes for it. The actual cause isn’t known, according to the Mayo Clinic. In these autoimmune disorders, your body mistakes the optic nerve covering as a threat and attacks.
While lupus and MS have no cure, your optometrist can treat optic neuritis.
3. Cancer and Tumors
We’re talking about cancer not in your eyes, which is possible but rare. Melanoma, brain cancer, leukemia, and other types of cancers that could be in late to early stages are what we mean here.
During your eye exam, your optometrist looks beyond your pupil. They might discover spotting, which is one symptom of melanoma. Discoloration in your eyes can be another red flag for your eye doctor, alerting them to a problem in your body.
Eye doctors can also detect colon polyps during your exam, which could be an early symptom of colon cancer or non-cancerous conditions.
While it’s rare for patients to walk in for an eye exam and leave with a possible cancer prognosis, it does and can happen.
Eye exams should remain part of your health prevention routine. Children and teens generally need exams less often than adults do. If you’ve been skipping your exams, you have three new reasons to reconsider even if you believe your vision is fine.