The Sobering Risks of Skipping That Annual Eye Exam

Highline Vision Center annual eye examMany people don’t realize that in addition to keeping your eyes healthy and addressing eye health challenges, optometrists can detect over 270 serious health conditions before symptoms ever occur.

That’s because the eye is the only place in the body where any doctor can look at blood vessels and understand the health of an individual’s eyes and body. This deep look into a patient’s health is performed by optometrists in every annual comprehensive eye exam. If you’re avoiding this annual examination, then you’re missing out on a full picture of your health and an opportunity for early identification.

The 270+ health conditions that eye doctors can detect include:

  • certain cancers
  • autoimmune diseases
  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • high cholesterol
  • hormonal imbalances
  • brain tumors

In 2014, the American Optometric Association performed a study that found optometrists had detected over 250,000 diabetes-related manifestations that led to a diabetes diagnosis in patients who were unaware of their health condition.1

“Nobody wants to have a health issue, but Colorado optometrists are equipped and can detect both eye-related and general health conditions before symptoms ever occur. That can give any patient a better outcome and management plan than if the condition went unidentified. Optometrists provide an essential opportunity for early identification that can lead to saving vision and saving lives,” says Dr. Tom Cruse, Board President for the Colorado Optometric Association.

Close up of eye with technical drawing detailsThese conditions can only be detected by your eye doctor in a comprehensive eye exam and not in vision screenings or online exams. Colorado optometrists agree that there isn’t a replacement or hack to comprehensive eye exams, but the exam only takes about 30-60 minutes to get that detailed picture of your vision and health.

Studies show that lack of symptoms, cost of eye care, lack of insurance and/or lack of transportation as the most common barriers to treatment in patients 40 years and older. Other individuals assume that nothing can be done to improve their vision, which is a bold misconception as new technology is introduced regularly.

No symptoms is not an excuse! Colorado doctors of optometry want to be very clear that one of the best times to have an exam is before symptoms present. This means that if any eye health or general health issue is detected it can be possible to treat or and manage the issue before irreversible damage occurs to the body or eyes.

The American Optometric Association has noted, “58% of asymptomatic patients presenting for a routine comprehensive eye exam had either a change in ocular status or care-management plan, as compared to 77% of symptomatic routine eye exam patients.”2

Many eye diseases and health issues that an eye doctor can detect through a comprehensive eye exam are correctable or manageable with early detection. The financial impact and prominence of eye health issues can be reduced through early detection during an annual comprehensive exam. The sooner you know you have the health issue, the sooner you can address it and prevent progression of the condition.

What Can I Expect at a Comprehensive Eye Exam?

A comprehensive eye exam usually takes 30-60 minutes and is performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. The exam covers 12 areas of observation and testing, whereas screenings only check one area, vision acuity.

The following do NOT count as a comprehensive eye exam:

  • Eye screenings are not comprehensive (including the eye screening at the DMV)
  • Online eye exams are not comprehensive
  • App-based vision tests are not comprehensive

Comprehensive Eye Exams Include:

  • Patient History
    The doctor or staff will collect information on your health, family, and vision history along with current medications and symptoms. They will clarify your chief concerns.
  • Visual Acuity Testing
    Testing for your vision with and without correction or with glasses or contact lenses.
  • Preliminary Tests
    Testing eye pressures, screening for side vision, color vision, stereo acuity, pupil reactions, eye teaming and tracking.
  • Keratometry/Topography
    Measuring the shape of the cornea.
  • Refraction
    Checking the power of the glasses needed.
  • Eye Focusing, Eye Teaming, and Eye Movement Testing
    Looking at how the eyes work together during focusing and movement.
  • Eye Health Evaluation
    Evaluating the health of the front of the eye and inside the eye.
  • Supplemental Testing
    Depending on the findings of your exam the doctor may order further testing. This could include, but is not limited to: digital imaging of the retina, visual field testing, OCT, meibomography, photodocumentation.  This testing is used to further clarify the diagnosis and treatment plans for such disease as: glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eye, visual efficiency issues or the need for contact lenses.

Many of these serious health and eye health conditions can be threats to an individual’s vision, life, or quality of life when left undetected. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.

1 https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/872745

2 https://www.aoa.org/news/clinical-eye-care/health-and-wellness/no-symptoms-no-need-for-regular-eye-exam-think-again?sso=y&ct=5977878336e6d8d1ccbc9da373d1beb18c0ea85c456401e790639b12ef28747793d3c0bdca514be82abc8d712153804a8a8fa285dbac03aa4ac4d4163d19d542

Article courtesy of the Colorado Optometric Association.