When was the last time you had attended a comprehensive eye exam? A comprehensive eye exam looks at much more than simply how clear your vision is. Ophthalmologists and optometrists recommend that all patients attend a comprehensive eye exam every year. For people who have been diagnosed with eye conditions, are wearing glasses or contact lenses, are over the age of 60, or are in another higher risk category, the frequency of these visits may increase. This is because comprehensive eye exams are the best preventative tool that your ophthalmologist has to help you maintain healthy, functional eyes for as long as possible.
While comprehensive eye exams do involve assessing the quality of your vision at different distances, they are also used to evaluate the condition and health of your eyes. Here are some of the vision problems that can be detected during your comprehensive eye exam:
Myopia - Also known as nearsightedness, this is the most common refractive eye condition in the world. It occurs when light is refracted incorrectly by the cornea, meaning that as it passes through the eye, the messages it sends to the brain are incorrect. You will be able to see nearby objects clearly, but the further away something is, the more blurred it will appear.
Hyperopia – Opposite to myopia, this refractive eye error is also known as farsightedness. Patients with this condition can see distant objects clearly, but struggle to see those closest to their face.
Astigmatism - This can occur alongside nearsightedness or farsightedness and is caused by light being refracted onto multiple focus points, causing vision to appear blurred at all distances.
Presbyopia - This age-related condition is characterized by the hardening of the natural lens of the eye, making it less able to change and focus properly, resulting in blurred nearby vision. Presbyopia is the most common reason for older people to require reading glasses.
Fortunately, most of the refractive eye conditions listed above can be corrected using prescription lenses, either as glasses or contacts.
Cataracts - Cataracts are very common and form when the proteins found in the natural lens of the eye start to change and clump together to create increasingly cloudy patches in your vision.
Glaucoma - A leading cause of irreversible vision loss, glaucoma occurs when the pressure inside your eyes increases to the point where it causes damage to the optic nerve.
Macular degeneration - This is where cells found within the retina, called the macula, start to degenerate, affecting our central vision and ability to see fine details.
Diabetic retinopathy - A complication of diabetes, this condition can lead to permanent, irreversible vision loss.
Keratoconus - An eye condition caused by the progressive thinning and bulging of the cornea.
Many of these eye diseases can have serious or even permanent consequences for your eye health and vision. The earlier they are detected, the more quickly they can be treated – potentially before any significant damage to your vision has occurred.
Lots of people are surprised to learn that the health and condition of their eyes can also provide information about their general health. This is because many medical conditions can cause damage to the structure of the eyes which can be seen during a routine comprehensive eye exam. Some of the most common health conditions detected include:
High blood pressure
Sexually transmitted diseases
If you haven’t had the health and condition of your eyes, or your vision, checked for some time, you could be overdue for a comprehensive eye exam. Not only will detecting any vision problems allow you to get treatment that could improve your sight, but your ophthalmologist in Santa Barbara can also help ensure that your eyes remain healthy for as long as possible.
For more on the importance of regular comprehensive eye exams or to schedule an appointment, call Santa Barbara Eyecare in Santa Barbara and Goleta, California at (805) 967-9990 or (805) 451-8180, respectively.