Taking Care of your Eyes
Why Your Eye Health Is Vital
You may think your vision is fine, but there's still a very good reason to get an eye exam*—your overall health. Your retinas contain many nerves and small blood vessels, making them a great diagnostic tool for early disease detection. This is why getting a thorough eye exam that checks for more than vision correction is one of the best things you can do for your health. In fact, some estimate that a recent study revealed that surveyed patients with high cholesterol saved a staggering $1.7 billion on treatment through early detection from their eye doctor. Keep reading to learn what your eyes could be trying to tell you with five diagnoses an eye exam can uncover.
1. Diabetes – Even if you feel perfectly healthy, you can never know what's looming below the surface. An estimated 54 million Americans have pre-diabetes and most don't even know it. An unfortunate statistic because even at the very early stages of pre-diabetes, a quick look at the blood vessels in your eye can help your eye doctor diagnose diabetes or pre-diabetes. And, the earlier you detect diseases like diabetes, the better chance you have of making positive lifestyle changes and preventing further complications. The telltale sign is called diabetic retinopathy and it can be detected when doctors find light hemorrhaging (bleeding) or small fluid leaks in the capillaries.
2. Glaucoma – Ever wonder what that puff of air during your eye exam is for? It's called non-contact tonometry, or NCT, and it calculates your intraocular pressure. High pressure puts you at risk for glaucoma. Measuring this regularly is extremely important because glaucoma doesn't typically show symptoms until you're already suffering from significant vision loss. Another reason why 20/20 vision doesn't make you exempt from your next eye exam.
3. Heart Disease – Did you know the eye is the only place in the human body where doctors can get an unobstructed view of your blood vessels? Not the coolest fact to share at parties, but it's very important when it comes to early detection of cardiovascular disease. Doctors can view small changes in the blood vessels in the back of your eye. This can be even easier and more effective with recent advancements such as digital retinal imaging, which allows for an even more thorough monitoring.
4. Sickle Cell Anemia – Sickle cell anemia is another disease that rarely shows visual symptoms in the early stages. One of the ways eye doctors might diagnose this in an eye exam is through vascular occlusion—the blockage of a blood vessel, usually with a clot. Catching and treating this early could help guard you against possible hemorrhaging in the eye, retinal detachment, or other symptoms.
5. Colon Polyps – You read that right—doctors can find colon problems by looking at your eyes. If yours finds retinal lesions with scarring that weren't caused by an external eye injury, the next step is to check your family history for colon problems.
Whether you wear glasses or have perfect 20/20 vision, you can see why it's important to schedule annual eye exams*, and why it's important your doctor performs a thorough eye exam that goes beyond getting your prescription right to check your overall health. And with the new year coming in, it may be a good time to use your vision benefits, as many plans expire on December 1st. Schedule your eye exam* today.