Why go to the optometrist when you have 20/20 vision?
Did you know that eye doctors are often the first to detect chronic systemic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure? The health of your eyes can reveal a window into your overall body health.
Even with 20/20 vision, routine eye exams are imperative for everyone. Regardless of your age or health status, annual eye exams can identify the presence of eye disease (most of which have no symptoms in beginning stages) and assess the functionality of your eyes. This includes those who wear contact lenses and/or glasses and children and adults with no vision problems.
What is 20/20 vision?
20/20 vision describes the clarity or sharpness of your vision. It is a term used to define visual acuity measured at a distance of 20 feet. Having 20/20 vision means that your vision at 20 feet out is clear and normal for that distance. Some people who see 20/100 must be as close as 20 feet to see what a personal with normal vision can see at 100 feet.
Having 20/20 vision, however, does not mean you have perfectly healthy vision. There are many other important eye functions like peripheral awareness or side vision, eye coordination, depth perception, focus and color vision that contribute to your overall vision health.
What happens during an exam?
Your doctor can observe changes in your vision and eye health that may be warning signs for a range of issues. Your eye doctor will use a series of tests to catch eye conditions and other blinding diseases like glaucoma and cataracts. It’s important to catch these blinding diseases in the beginning stages before vision loss occurs.
Common tests during an eye exam:
- Eye chart reading to measure visual acuity
- Color blindness test
- Cover test to evaluate how your eyes work together
- Ocular motility testing to evaluate your eye movement
- Stereopsis test to measure depth perception
- Retinoscopy test for an approximation of your eyeglass prescription
- Refraction test to determine your exact eyeglass prescription
- Slit lamp exam to evaluate the structure of your eye with high magnification
- Glaucoma test that measures the pressure inside your eyes
- Pupil dilation for the most thorough evaluation of your eye health
- Visual field test to detect blind spots in your side vision
- Contact lens fitting, if necessary
Common health issues and diseases that can be detected during the exam:
- Glaucoma: the leading cause of vision loss that often shows no symptoms in early stages
- Macular degeneration: the leading cause of vision loss for Americans 65 and older
- High blood pressure: eye doctors can spot high blood pressure and hypertension, both of which have been found to affect vision.
- Diabetes: eye doctors regularly check for diabetes by examining the blood vessels of the eye.
Skipping out on routine eye exams diminishes your chances of detecting eye diseases and other illnesses, and increases the likelihood of costly care or even vision loss.
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