Expert Eye Examinations and Why they Matter
When was the last time you saw an eye care professional?
Or, more specifically, when did one last see you?
Whatever your age or lifestyle, having a regular eye examination should place high on your list of personal priorities. Because when an eye care professional looks at your eyes, he or she does more than determine if you need spectacles or contacts – they also check for common eye diseases, inspect your eyes individually as well as together, and evaluate how your eyes can be an indicator of your overall health.
Here's what they're looking for.
- Amblyopia is when the eyes are turned or when one eye has a much different prescription. This makes the brain favor the stronger eye. Left untreated, amblyopia can leave the weaker eye permanently impaired.
- Refractive errors which includes nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Correcting refractive errors usually requires eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
- Strabismus are crossed or turned eyes. Your eyes' alignment is checked to ascertain that they are working as one or else your depth perception suffers.
- Eye diseases such as glaucoma and diabetic eye disease which have no early stage symptoms. Your eye care professional needs to check the health of your eyes inside and out, as early detection can significantly reduce the risk of permanent vision loss.
- Other diseases. Eye care professionals can detect early signs of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other related conditions during the examination. Diabetes, for instance, can cause small blood vessels to leak in the eye and create vision loss. With this sort of “early detection system,” it's certainly not surprising for them to discover other maladies within your body.
Everyone can benefit from a comprehensive eye examination. Even children without apparent symptoms who are at low risk for eye problems should still have their eyes screened by six months of age, then examined once more at age three and again before the start of school. Sadly, 1 in 20 preschool children and 1 in 4 school-aged children have eye problems which could cause permanent vision loss if left untreated. Incredibly, he or she may not even complain of vision problems simply because they have don't know what “normal” vision is. If your child is having trouble reading or performing below par at school, consider having their eyes examined. At the very least, you can rule out visual problems as the cause.
"Everyone can benefit from a comprehensive eye examination."
Adults, too, should have their eyes tested regularly for eye disease and to keep any prescriptions up-to-date. Do you know that there are at least three kinds of eye care professionals you can consult: ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. All are respected experts in their field, and whom you see depends on the degree of your needs?
- Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye care. They mainly perform eye surgery and treat medical conditions of the eye. They have received 12 or more years of training.
- Optometrists are fully qualified contact lens practitioners with the ability to dispense the best professional advice with regards to the most appropriate contact lenses for a patient's use. Contact lenses are medical devices and hence optometrists need to undergo formal education and training for at least 4-5 years.
- Opticians are eye care professionals who can adjust and repair spectacles, fashion your lenses and instruct you in contact lens usage. Opticians generally receive their training either by apprenticeship or from technical schools.
Oh, it's also helpful to know the difference between a vision screening versus an eye examination. The former is basically a general eye test that's meant to help identify potential vision problems. (That eye test you took when you get your driver's license? That's a good example of a vision screening.)
In comparison, a comprehensive eye examination is performed by an eye care professional and involves careful testing of all aspects of your vision. Based upon the exam results, your eye care professional will then recommend the ideal lens that complements your individual needs.
Remember, when it comes to your eyes, expertise is everything. So consult any of the three aforementioned eye care professionals to conduct your eye examination – most family physicians and pediatricians are not specifically trained to do this, and they may unknowingly miss some of the vision problem cues.