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'Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful.' - Helen Keller
When was the last time you had an eye exam? Don't remember? Never? Then it's time you made an appointment with the eye doctor. Eye exam are not only for those who have poor vision. Eye test can pick up early symptoms of health problems such as cataract, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and yes, even arthritis, so everyone should visit an eye doctor regularly. (Read: What your eyes could indicate about your health)
When should you start eye check-ups
Have your eye tested regularly till you are 40 and every two years hence forth. If you are wearing contact lenses, get your eye exam done yearly. Children should have vision screening once they start going to school and then every year or two. Even if you have no problems with your eyes, make sure to visit the eye doctor once or twice a year after the age of 65, to rule out eye complications.
How long will an eye exam take?
That will depend on whether it's the first time you are visiting the doctor or if you are going for a follow up visit or just regular check ups. It may take about an hour or so if it is your first visit since the doctor will have to do a complete eye exam. Follow ups won't take this much time.
What to expect during routine eye exam?
The first thing the doctor will ask you is whether you are having any vision or eye problems. And if yes, then how long you had them and what makes them better or worse. The doctor will then review your history of glasses or contacts and ask questions about your overall health, if you are taking any medication, and also your family's medical history if required, followed by various tests such as
-check if you have proper three-dimensional (3D) vision (stereopsis);
-check your peripheral vision (visual field test);
-check the eye muscles by asking you to look in different directions at a penlight or other small object;
-examine the pupils to see that they respond properly to light;
-check the inside of your eyes with an ophthalmoscope (ophthalmoscopy);
-check the back of your eye by giving eye drops to dilate your pupils to view the structures in the back of the eye (retinal examination).
Many eye diseases are curable or can be treated if detected early. Here's a 101 on some of the eye health problems. (Read: Dry eyes - causes, symptoms, treatment)
Glaucoma, a serious eye disease leading to permanent and irreversible loss of vision, is a complicated disease where the optic nerve that carries visual information from the eye to the brain is damaged due to increased pressure in the eye, technically called intraocular pressure (IOP). It is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma, has few warning signs before damage has occurred, so getting regular eye exam is very important. It is never too soon to visit an eye doctor because the disease does not just affect older people but it can strike even newborn babies.
Glaucoma diagnosis will involve 5 tests:
Regular glaucoma check-ups, however, just include two routine eye tests, tonometry and ophthalmoscopy.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens (a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina) that affects vision. It can occur in either or both eyes but does not spread from one eye to another. Although cataract is related to aging, it can develop after an eye injury or exposure to radiation. It can also be congenital, that is, you may be born with it or develop cataracts in childhood.
If you notice any changes in your vision, such as double vision or blurriness, get an appointment with an eye doctor right away. Your doctor will perform an eye exam that may include:
-Visual acuity test
The only treatment for cataract is surgery. But have the surgery only when vision loss interferes with your everyday activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV.
Refractive errors (near sightedness, far sightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia)
How do we see? We see through eyes and the brain. The cornea (the transparent coating covering the iris and the pupil at the front of the eye) along with the eye lens changes the direction of the light through the process called refraction and helps the eye to focus.
Refractive errors occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing directly on the retina (the screen like tissue containing millions of photoreceptors that converts light into images with the help of the brain) either due to changes in the shape of the cornea, or aging of the lens, or length of the eyeball.
The refractive errors could be
Your eye doctor will diagnose refractive errors during comprehensive dilated eye examination that involves visual acuity test with a retinoscope and phoropter.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes where high blood sugar damages the retina of your eyes. So, have your eye examination done once a year if you are a diabetic patient over 12 years of age. Unfortunately, early retinopathy does not have symptoms; in the later stages the symptoms are blurred vision or shapes floating in your field of vision, reduced night vision and sudden blindness. (Read: Eye problems in children)
Here too, your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive dilated eye examination including visual acuity test and tonometry to measure eye pressure. In addition, your doctor may do a retinal photography test called fluorescein angiography to pinpoint blood vessels that are closed, broken down or leaking fluid into the retinal tissue and an optical coherence tomography that show the thickness of the retina to confirm whether fluid has leaked into the retinal tissue.
Since many eye and vision problems do not have obvious signs and symptoms, it is easy to understand why getting your eye exam done regularly is so important. Don't neglect your routine eye exams.
At Bajaj Allianz, we care about your eyes too. Sign up for the HealthGuard policy and get discounts on eye checkups, wellness packages and more. Click here to know more.
Glaucoma - http://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma
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