Do you put off scheduling your routine eye exam until you notice a difference in your vision or experience more significant or serious symptoms?
Even when your eyes seem fine, regular eye exams are important — not only for maintaining your vision, but also for detecting eye problems at their earliest stages when they’re most treatable, according to Dr. Gregory Steele, an optometrist with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group.
Dr. Steele notes that overall health can be visible in the eyes. Through an eye exam, your eye doctor may be able to detect irregularities or abnormalities associated with certain illnesses or health conditions, including those that may be serious or life-threatening.
“For instance, if you are experiencing the loss of side vision, which can be a symptom of glaucoma, you may be dealing with a more serious health issue beyond your vision if the problem stems from the brain,” says Dr. Steele. “If that is the case, the same symptom might indicate a stroke, head trauma, tumor or brain bleed.”
Protecting your vision and your health
Dr. Steele recommends scheduling regular eye exams not only to help reduce your risk of eye-related problems, but also to promote overall general health.
“The average adult should schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist annually, but ask your eye doctor about how frequently you should get your eyes checked based on your individual needs and health history,” he says. “Many eye conditions don’t show symptoms until it’s too late, and doctors can detect problems such as macular degeneration or glaucoma very early, when they are easier to control or treat.”
Dr. Steele offers these additional tips for caring for your eyes and vision:
- Eat a healthy diet — including leafy greens — and maintain a healthy weight
- Know your family’s eye health history
- Wear sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation
- Quit smoking or don’t start
Lastly, Dr. Steele stresses the importance of giving your eyes a break to minimize eyestrain and keep them from getting tired.
“If you spend a lot of time focusing on one thing — a computer screen, for example — the 20-20-20 rule can help relieve eyestrain,” he says. “Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.”