eyeglasses-679696_1280Have you been experiencing health problems that doctors haven’t been able to diagnose?
Are you undergoing test after uncomfortable test only for your physician to come up empty on the root of you issue?

Why not try an eye exam?

Yes, you read that right, and with August being National Eye Exam Month, it’s the perfect opportunity to schedule an appointment. As a board-certified ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist, as well as a former American Academy of Ophthalmology fellow and American Board of Ophthalmology diplomat, I can’t express how important eye exams are for everyone, even if you’ve never had an issue with your vision.

Time and time again, eye doctors have proven to be more than just prescribers of eyeglasses and contact lenses through their discovery of wide-ranging diseases and ailments, which include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Jaundice
  • Various cancers
  • Tumors
  • Multiple sclerosis and other auto-immune diseases
  • Thyroid disease
  • High cholesterol and more…

Some concerns, high cholesterol for example, are detected at the surface of the eye or in the cornea, while others, such as diabetes, are discovered in the retina. The appearance of the eye, meaning color and size, may play a role in uncovering issues like jaundice and thyroid disease. The bottom line is that you should adhere to the American Optometric Association’s recommendations for eye examinations, which are every one to two years for ages 18-60 and annually for those 61 and older.

Observing these guidelines becomes especially critical as we reach age 40, because even if you’ve never had vision issues, know that with age your eyes will lose their flexibility in focus. This condition is called presbyopia, and none of us are immune. Therefore, should you notice that it’s difficult to read – or you get headaches when reading – as you normally would, due to distance or lack of lighting, it’s definitely time to schedule an appointment.

If you’re unsure which type of eye professional to see, here’s a brief rundown of their qualifications and capabilities:

  • An optometrist is a doctor of optometry (D.O.) who can perform eye exams; diagnose conditions such as near- and farsightedness; and prescribe eyewear and certain medications for minor eye-related conditions.
  • An ophthalmologist can carry out all of an optometrist’s duties; the difference is that this profession requires a medical doctor (M.D.). This means that an ophthalmologist can also diagnose more complex eye conditions and prescribe the necessary medications, as well as perform eye-related surgeries.
  • You may also come across an optician, who holds a degree or certification that allows him or her to help you with filling your prescription for lenses or eyeglasses, though not qualified to write the prescription or give an eye exam. This person usually works in an optometrist’s or ophthalmologist’s office.
  • Finally, you may choose to see an iridologist, in addition to your optometrist or ophthalmologist. This individual is certified to perform iridology, a form of alternative medicine that examines characteristics of the eyes, including colors and patterns, to identify health concerns, as discussed earlier in this post. (Note: an iridologist does not perform vision exams.)

My hope is that this information has shown you the importance of eye exams, no matter your age or status of vision, and that you make an appointment to see an eye doctor as soon as possible. Should he or she uncover a health issue and you’d like to explore alternative medicine as a possible treatment, please do not hesitate to contact me. Wishing you all the best at this year’s eye exam.