Your eyes may be the window to your soul, but they are also a spotlight to your health. Regular eye tests are just as important as visits to your doctor but often eye examinations are not a priority. Think about it. When last did you have your eyes tested? We assume that because our vision is good, there is no cause for concern. But good vision doesn’t mean that our eyes are healthy. In fact, an eye test doesn’t just determine whether you need trendy frames or not. A comprehensive eye test can detect eye diseases but may also serve as an early indicator of more serious underlying health conditions.
Our eyes and overall health are connected. As we age, our eyesight naturally starts to degenerate. Glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts are conditions that start to surface as we get older. But optometrists can see more than just vision problems during your eye test. The blood vessels in the eyes form part of a larger network inside of your body and any health conditions that exist elsewhere, can sometimes be detected by changes in the eyes. Talk about preventative care!
At Execuspecs, we have identified some of the eye diseases and underlying conditions that an eye test can bring to light to help you understand why we take eye care so seriously… and why you should too.
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
Yes it is quite a mouthful, but age-related macular degeneration or “AMD” produces gradual vision loss and may cause shadows or distorted visual disturbances in your central vision. Early signs of macular degeneration can be seen by your optometrist in the retina as tiny yellow deposits called drusen. When macular degeneration is suspected, your optometrist may choose to do a simple Amsler Grid test to test your central vision. This grid consists of straight lines with a dot in the centre. If the lines appear broken, distorted or wavy, your optometrist may want to do further tests to confirm AMD. Early detection is essential to manage this condition.
Glaucoma is an eye condition that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve. Over time, fluid builds up in the front of the eye which increases pressure, damaging the optic nerve. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60. Symptoms are often painless with no vision changes. Regular eye tests are essential to diagnose and treat Glaucoma before long term vision loss occurs.
Cataracts cause clouding of the natural, internal lens of the eye. This cloudiness permeates through the lens, eventually blocking out light and causing vision loss. Over an extended period of time, cataracts can cause blindness. Symptoms appear gradually over time. You may notice that your vision is a little blurry and hazy. Your eyes may develop a sensitivity to light or your night vision may be a little less acute than before. Colours may also appear faded.
People with diabetes need to give their eyes a bit of extra TLC. Diabetes damages capillaries in the retina of the eyes. As the damage progresses, a small amount of bleeding may be found within the retina which may be a sign of diabetic retinopathy. Many people with diabetic retinopathy have no symptoms, but over time, a number of eye related issues may start to surface, including blurry vision. If this condition is left untreated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness, but early detection can cut this risk in half.
The effects of high blood pressure or hypertension can be seen when your optometrist looks at the back of the eye for narrowed, thickened or burst blood vessels. People with hypertension develop a condition known as hypertensive retinopathy. Symptoms of hypertensive retinopathy only become noticeable once the condition has progressed extensively and vision has been reduced.
t is important to note that brain tumours are relatively rare but a routine eye test may mean the difference between life and death for some. Brain tumours cause vision changes when the optic disc at the back of the eye becomes swollen as a result of increased pressure in the skull. Other vision changes that could signal a brain tumour include blurry vision or vision loss.
Cardiovascular disease can appear in the eyes a lot sooner than in the rest of the body. Some of the earliest symptoms that an eye test can detect is the narrowing of blood vessels in the eyes and swelling in the optic nerve. These blood vessels indicate that individuals may be at risk of a stroke, heart attack or heart failure.
The above list is no cause for panic. Just be aware that any changes in your vision should be taken seriously, even if you feel that it may be something minor. We want you to take your eye health as seriously as we do because by the time people notice a difference in their vision, the eye disease or health condition may be in an advanced stage. Don’t hesitate to go for an eye test if you experience any of the following:
- Light sensitivity
- Eye discharge
- Distorted vision
- Double vision
- Blurry vision
- Droopy eyelid
- Persistent vision disruption
- Family history of eye disease
- High blood pressure
- Trauma to the eye
- Changes to night vision
- Excessive eye fatigue
- Vision loss
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'VE BOOKED AN EYE TEST
Once you’ve booked your eye test, you’ve taken that first big step to ensuring that your eyes get the love they deserve. Your appointment will usually take about 45 minutes so plan accordingly. Remember to bring any relevant information or documentation that may be useful to your optometrist. Buffer in some extra time to try on some stylish frames if you need spectacles and be sure to check in with your medical aid about your cover. Bring your current glasses or contact lenses with you as well as a list of your current medications. It is also advisable to bring a list of questions or concerns that you want to chat to your optometrist about.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR APPOINTMENT
Your optometrist may start off the examination with a series of questions about your medical history or any eye problems, pain, discomfort or visual disturbances you may be experiencing before moving on to diagnostic tests.
Your optometrist will check your visual acuity, to measure the sharpness of your vision to see if you need glasses or contact lenses to improve your vision. This is done by using an eye chart where letters are made smaller over time, until you may no longer be able to read the screen.
Your eye muscle coordination will be tested to ensure that your eyes are working together or individually to ensure that no undue stress is being placed on your eye muscles.
Your pupil’s reaction to light will be assessed to test the reflex response and to ensure that the light is correctly transmitted to your brain.
Your eye pressure will be tested to see that it is at a normal level.
A refraction test will determine if you need prescription glasses by assessing nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.
Your visual field will be checked for blind spots in your peripheral (side vision) while facing forward. These spots can indicate whether a glaucoma is developing or may be used to indicate the possibility of a stroke.
The health of your eyes will be assessed by giving the optometrist a magnified view of the area in and around your eyes to look for signs of disease or infection.
At the end of the appointment, you optometrist will review your results. If there are any possible problems, your optometrist may refer you to a specialist or request a follow up appointment. If you need prescription glasses, the fun begins. You may now try on new frames!
If you haven’t had your eyes tested recently, make an appointment at your nearest Execuspecs store today. Most eye diseases and health conditions can be detected before they cause symptoms or serious problems. It only takes an hour to have a lifetime of healthy vision!
Date Published: 11 September 2019