…but my vision isn’t blurry.
How often do you visit your eye doctor? Annually? Every 5 years? Still haven’t been checked? Perhaps a better question is how often should you visit your eye doctor. For the general population, optometrists recommend a visit at least every 12 months. Still it’s common for people to wait until their vision gets blurry. On the surface that seems sensible, but it overlooks some very important elements of good eye health.
Every eye exam does include a determination of one’s glasses and/or contact lens prescription. While this is important for good vision, it’s just a small component of the examination. When light enters the eye, it gets refocused no less than 12 times before being converted to an electrical signal behind the eye. In most people, the summation of these focusing steps is not quite perfect – leading to a prescription that compensates for the difference. This would be the end of the story if the eyes were simply glass and electronics like a camera lens. Obviously they are living tissue that have special needs and interacts with the rest of the body.
There are disorders that can affect all of the elements that comprise the eye (e.g. the eyelid, tears, lens, retina). Eye specific diseases include glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and many more. Many systemic conditions such diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol may cause ocular complications as well. In fact in certain instances, an optometrist is the first doctor to see these signs in a patient. During a eye doctor’s examination he observes the external eye structures under high magnification. Also he will look inside the eye at the all internal structures. Any abnormalities are treated or aggressively monitored as warranted. In addition to examining the physical structure of the eye, the physiology or functioning of the eye is equally important to check. He will ensure that they eyes are moving properly, working well together and independently, communicating with the brain, and being supplied with blood as they should.
Some people are fortunate enough to not need glasses until about age 40 or maybe never need them. Other people notice that their prescription stops changing in their late teens or early twenties. Regardless of how blurry or clear a person’s vision is, it’s very important to ensure that her eyes are structurally sound and functioning to the max. If a problem is ever detected, it is far superior to catch it in the early stages than to catch it much later. Don’t let “good enough” vision rob you of a lifetime of stellar vision and healthy eyes.
Spencer Ritenour, O.D.