What have you done to be more proactive about your health for the new year? Maybe you’ve stocked your fridge and pantry with healthier food for a new diet or loaded up on home gym equipment to make it easier to exercise during the pandemic.
Those are both great ways to make your health a priority, but did you know an annual comprehensive eye exam is another way to start the year with your healthiest foot forward?
Comprehensive Eye Exams Check More Than Vision
There’s more to your eye health than just vision, don’t you see? That’s why it’s called a comprehensive eye exam. Along with your eye health, an eye exam performed by an eye doctor reveals key insights into your overall health.
So, just like a primary care physician or specialist does during an annual check-up, an optometrist will consider your personal and family medical history and the environment you work and live in to identify potentially serious or life-threatening health problems.
Beyond basic vision tests, your comprehensive eye exams can include:
Eye Focusing, Eye Movement, and Eye Teaming Testing
These tests are important because they help determine how your eyes function together and individually to provide a single, clear image.
Eye Health Evaluation
This requires complicated-looking microscopes with lighted lenses and specialized eye drops to dilate or numb your eyes.
Dilating drops may be dreaded, but they are necessary to widen your pupils enough so your eye doctor can get a good look at the structures of your eyes. Plus, they can be a good excuse for skipping out on boring work, errands, or house chores.
You may also get eye numbing drops to have an eye fluid pressure test that can reveal signs of serious eye problems, like glaucoma.
This test measures the curve of your cornea to check for keratoconus, a condition where your cornea bulges into a cone shape, which causes blurry vision and light sensitivity. It’s also necessary for finding the proper fit for contact lenses.
Eye Health is Just as Important as Other Aspects of Health
What makes your eye health so important is that it has a big effect on your learning, safety, and quality of life. Eye health can often reflect other health issues you’re experiencing as well.
Eyes Reveal Other Health Problems
You may or may not believe that gazing into the eyes of a loved one can reveal something unexpressed about them. In reality, your eyes are a really good link to other important systems of your body through their blood vessels, nerves, and other tissues. This makes them a great early warning system for many undiagnosed health issues.
Common Health Issues Detected During a Comprehensive Eye Exam
It may surprise you that an eye doctor can detect over 270 serious health conditions during a comprehensive eye exam. Including common conditions such as:
- Autoimmune disorders – double vision or drooping eyelids
- Brain tumors – swelling near the back of your eye
- Diabetes – floaters or yellow fluid or blood leaking from retinal vessels
- Graves’ disease – dry eye, blurry vision, or vision loss
- High blood pressure – bleeding or kinked vessels at the back of the eye
- High cholesterol – yellow or blue ring around your cornea
- Lupus – dry eye or swelling in different parts of the eye
- Vascular disease – bleeding in or around the eye
Routine Vision Screening Versus Comprehensive Eye Exam
The purpose of any vision screening is to help identify possible vision problems for further evaluation. Kids often get them in school or through a pediatrician. Sometimes, they’re required to participate in certain sports, get a driver’s license, or perform specific jobs.
But, even if you pass a vision screening, you still may not have an accurate view of your vision or eye health. Proper eye and vision evaluations require specialized equipment and procedures. Vision screenings are not a reliable tool for diagnosing vision issues and eye health for a number of reasons, including:
- Testing limitations – Vision screenings often only test for distance visual acuity (the ability to see clearly at a distance). This doesn’t indicate how well the eyes function up close or work together and gives no information about your eye health.
- Untrained personnel – Organizations that administer vision screenings often use volunteers and others with little training who do not have the experience or knowledge to understand screening results.
- Inadequate testing equipment – The quality and capabilities of testing equipment is different based on where you get your vision screening. A pediatrician or primary care doctor may have better equipment than a school. But things like proper room lighting, testing distances, and regular equipment maintenance also affect test results. Even tests performed by well-trained screeners with the latest vision screening tools can misdiagnose (or miss) vision and eye health issues in many children.
The Components of a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Eye doctors are the only ones with the specialized training to conduct a comprehensive eye examination for a diagnosis and treatment plan. This exam can include:
- Eye focus, eye movement, and eye teaming tests
- Eye health examination
- Patient and family health history
- Preliminary testing for color vision, depth perception, and pupil response to light
- Refractive status assessment (for nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism)
- Visual acuity measurement (reading ability at distances)
Common Eye & Vision Problems Revealed in Comprehensive Eye Exams
Most vision problems found through comprehensive eye exams are refractive errors (from the shape of the eye keeping light from focusing on the retina clearly). These include:
- Astigmatism – distorted images caused by an irregular shape of the eye.
- Farsightedness (hyperopia) – only able to see things clearly when farther away.
- Nearsightedness (myopia) – only able to see things clearly when close up.
Remedies for Common Vision Problems
Your overall health should always be your top priority. But if a comprehensive eye exam reveals only a common or chronic vision problem, one of the many laser surgery options offered at nJoy Vision in Oklahoma City could make your quality of life even better.
In addition to these common procedures, the Oklahoma City eye surgeons at nJoy Vision perform a number of advanced, custom treatments for more significant and age-related eye conditions like keratoconus and presbyopia. These options include Visian ICL and refractive lens exchange (RLE), corneal collagen crosslinking (CXL), Intacs, and corneal transplants.