August was National Eye Exam Month

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By Liseia Parisian, Network Screening Integration Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan

Did you know that an eye exam can detect over 20 different chronic diseases and disorders, which according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology include diabetes, high blood pressure, loss of vision, and even cancer. For most of these conditions early detection is key to prevent further health decline or fatality.  August is National Eye Exam Month which helps raise awareness of how important it is to check your vision. Getting an eye exam is vital to healthy vision and maintaining overall health.  The highlights from the American Academy of Ophthalmology shows how getting an eye exam can help maintain your health.

  • High Blood Pressure – About 1 in 3 Americans are affected by high blood pressure. The blood vessels in the back of the eye can tell the story of high blood pressure through abnormal kinks, bends, or bleeding. This tell-tale sign of high blood pressure affects approximately 1 in every 3 adults. Having high blood pressure can lead to macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and a host of other chronic diseases.
  • Diabetes – If the blood vessels in your retina leak blood or yellow fluid, this can be a sign that you have diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy, if not treated, can lead to vision loss, so it is important to have early detection.
  • Medication toxicities – Some drugs can be toxic to the optic nerve and retina. If you experience redness in the eyes, scratchy corneas, conjunctivitis, or scaling eyelids you may be experiencing drug toxicity.
  • Stroke – If you experience sudden blind spots in your vision, it could be caused by clots in the blood vessels in your retina. These clots can mean that you have an increased risk of a stroke. It is also important to keep note if you have a loss of peripheral vision this can indicate brain damage caused by a stroke.
  • Cancer – Many cancers can be detected during an eye exam. For example, breast cancer can spread to the eyes and be discovered during an eye exam. Skin cancer can affect the surface of the eyes and the skin around the eyes. According to the New York Cancer Center, Leukemic cancer cells can hide in various structures of the eye even after systemic chemotherapy treatment, so it is important to detect it at an early stage so it can be treated.

As you can see, eye exams are key to detecting various illnesses so you can have the best health outcomes. The Mayo Clinic recommends that adults over the age of 60 get an eye exam every one to two years. If you have prescriptive eyewear, it is recommended you get more frequent eye exams. Read the tips below from the Mayo Clinic on how to prepare for an eye exam.

  • What kind of procedure do you need?

There are two kinds of eye specialists that you can see for an eye exam depending on the issue you need to address. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye care and can perform eye exams, eye surgery, prescribe corrective lenses, and diagnose and treat complex eye conditions. Optometrists are also medical doctors who can do everything an Ophthalmologist can do with the exception that they cannot perform as complex surgeries as an Ophthalmologist.

  • Bring any prescriptive eyewear you have. If you use glasses or prescription contact lenses bring them with you. This will help ensure if you have the correct eyewear for your eyes.
  • Bring sunglasses. During an eye exam, your eyes will be dilated, which can make them more susceptible to sunlight and bright lights and can cause temporary blurred vision. It is recommended to have someone drive you to and from your eye appointment.
  • Write down any eye symptoms, family history, and questions you have for the specialist. This helps to ensure that you don’t forget to ask any questions and the doctor can get a good idea of the issues you may be predisposed to and how to address those issues.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your eye exam goes smoothly, and prevent health issues. I hope this article encourages you to make sure you and your loved ones are up to date on your eye exams.

Liseia Parisian is a Screening Integration Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan and has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since March 2020. As a Screening Integration Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan, Liseia advocates for seniors and those with disabilities, helping them locate services to increase their quality of life by making sure they have access to food, housing, and healthcare.