Having an annual eye exam is one of the best ways to preserve your eyesight and protect your health. Even if you have 20/20 vision, you can still benefit in many ways from this relatively simple and highly effective screening test.
First, consider that your brain can often adapt to subtle changes in your vision. So unless a change is sudden or dramatic, you may not even realize that you need a new eyeglass prescription. Wearing an incorrect prescription for an extended time can cause eye strain, leading to headaches, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, and other unnecessary discomforts. Annual eye exams ensure your prescription is reviewed and updated in a timely manner.
Annual Eye Exams Promote Better General Health
Second, your eyes offer a unique view of your body. When performing a comprehensive eye exam, an ophthalmologist can often spot signs of potentially serious health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, autoimmune conditions, thyroid disease, and even neurological ailments such as multiple sclerosis. An annual eye exam provides an excellent opportunity to catch these problems early and avoid serious complications down the road.
Better Eye Health
Third, many common eye diseases go undiagnosed and untreated because they do not produce noticeable symptoms in their early stages. However, an ophthalmologist can often detect these conditions when performing a dilated eye exam. Dilating the pupil allows a much more comprehensive view of the eye’s internal structures. The ophthalmologist can then evaluate for a number of eye diseases, such as:
Over time, the usually clear and flexible natural lens inside the eye begins to change. The lens loses transparency as its proteins and fibers break down and clump together. A clouded lens termed a cataract can cause blurred vision by preventing sharply defined images from reaching the light-sensitive retina.
Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States. While mild visual impairment due to early cataracts can often be corrected with prescription eyeglasses, cataracts typically worsen with age, and surgery may eventually be required to restore lost vision. During this outpatient procedure, the surgeon removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial lens implant customized to meet the patient’s desired visual needs and outcome.
A common complication of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy involves damage to the blood vessels causing leakage of blood and fluid into the delicate retinal tissue. In more advanced disease, faulty new blood vessels can grow on the retina’s surface, leading to intra-ocular hemorrhage and even retinal detachment.
Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in working-age American adults. However, with early diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to delay or prevent vision loss in most people with diabetes, further underscoring the importance of receiving an annual eye exam.
Another common cause of vision loss in adults 60 and older, glaucoma is a chronic and progressive eye disease that irreversibly damages the optic nerve due to elevated eye pressure. Referred to as the “silent thief of sight,” glaucoma typically has no warning symptoms. Vision loss usually begins at the outer edges of the visual field, eventually impacting the central vision. However, your ophthalmologist can often detect glaucoma in its early stages during a routine eye exam. The importance of early detection of glaucoma through annual eye exams cannot be understated because vision cannot be recovered once lost.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that affects central vision due to a gradual breakdown of the light-sensitive tissue in the eye. Though AMD can undoubtedly lead to profound visual impairment, it thankfully spares the peripheral vision and thus does not result in complete blindness.
There are two primary types of AMD, commonly referred to as “dry” and “wet,” depending on the presence or absence of blood or fluid in the macula. An ophthalmologist can detect early- stage AMD when performing a dilated eye exam. Identifying early AMD is critical to enable recommendations and interventions to prevent or delay significant vision loss.
Schedule Your Annual Eye Examination Today
Circling back to the initial question of why it is essential to have an annual eye examination, the answer is now clear. Yearly eye exams can help ensure that you are seeing as clearly as possible and facilitate the regular monitoring of your eye and general medical health.
If you would like to schedule an eye exam, contact Florida Medical Clinic Eye Specialists at 813-284-2323 for an appointment at one of our two convenient locations: 14014 North 46th Street, Suite A in North Tampa, or 2100 Via Bella Boulevard, Suite 105 in Land O’ Lakes.
About Mark L. Arey, MD
Dr. Arey is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in comprehensive ophthalmology and premium cataract surgery utilizing femtosecond laser and advanced technology intra-ocular lenses. Additionally, Dr. Arey manages conditions such as glaucoma and dry eye syndrome and screens for retinal diseases, including diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
A Central Florida native, Dr. Arey has been practicing in North Tampa since 2008. In 2018 he established Florida Medical Clinic Eye Specialists with the goal of providing an optimized patient experience incorporating new and emerging technologies in eye care and ophthalmic surgery.
Dr. Arey was once again honored by Tampa Magazine as a 2022 “Top Doc” in their annual survey of physicians.