Why You Need a Regular Eye Exam

August is National Eye Exam Month, and whether you’re preparing to send your kids back to school or just going about your normal end-of-summer business, it’s a good time to think about your eye health. While there are different schools of thought fromophthalmologists and optometrists on how often you should get an eye exam, it’s clear that regular visits are important.

We’ve already explained the difference between the different types of eye healthcare professionals, but you may still be wondering why you need an eye exam in the first place. To answer that, you have to take a second to appreciate how special the eye really is.

The eyes are a window into your body

The unique positioning of the eyes to the brain, as well as the high number of blood vessels in the area, makes the eyes a great indicator of a variety of health issues. A look into your eyes by a trained professional can help identify early stages of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Recent research even suggests that certain scans of the eye could be an early detector of Alzheimer’s.

That’s not to mention the variety of eye health issues that, if not caught during a regular screening, could result in serious health complications. Cataracts, retinal detachment, glaucoma, and more are all screened for during routine eye checkups. In each case, early detection can save you from damage to your eyes and vision.

Eyesight changes throughout your life

As a young child you may have had perfect vision but then found the need for corrective glasses to take notes in college, or as a once-vibrant, eagle-eyed 20-something you could suddenly find reading the computer screen a strain in your forties. Everyone’s experience is different.

Poor vision can also have a negative impact on your ability to drive and react to sudden changes in your environment. If you can’t see well, it could even prevent you from excelling in work or school. For those already wearing glasses or contacts, an outdated prescription can lead to eye strain, headaches and blurred vision.

Modern lifestyles present unique eye risks

The device on which you’re reading this article presents another reason to have routine eye exams. The screens on our phones, tablets and computers emit blue and violet light at such a high-energy and short wavelength that it is causing, what doctors are referring to as, digital eye strain.

Digital eye strain is known to cause headaches, blurred or doubled vision, and eye fatigue. These symptoms are often temporary and minor, but overexposure to computer light can also lead to more serious conditions like macular degeneration.

Protect your eyes

With each of these compelling explanations of what an eye exam will detect, you can begin to see the importance of routine eye care appointments. The best way to keep your eyes healthy—and have confidence that there isn’t an underlying issue—is with regular screening. Making an appointment today could be the first step to protecting your vision—and your health—for years to come.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

What’s the Difference Between an Optometrist and Ophthalmologist?

By HealthCost

August is National Eye Exam Month and Cataracts Awareness Month. It’s a great reminder to take a moment to schedule an appointment for an important regular eye exam.

But who should you see? In the realm of eye health, there are two primary types of medical professionals: optometrists and ophthalmologists. Each are highly trained specialists with their own benefits. Because they sound so similar, it can be confusing to understand who does what.

Optometrist

There are more than 36,000 optometrists in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Optometrists perform eye exams, treat conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, and diagnose eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma and retinopathy. In most states, optometrists can prescribe medicine for certain eye conditions.

In addition to undergraduate study, optometrists complete four years of postgraduate study to receive a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree. While this degree does not make an optometrist a medical doctor, optometrists must pass nationally administered exams to gain licensing and adhere to strict standards—just like a medical doctor—to remain in practice. For many patients, an optometrist may be the only eye care professional they ever need to see. For others, optometrists may be the first to notice a critical issue requiring the care of an ophthalmologist.

Ophthalmologist

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of the eye. While they can perform routine eye exams, they are highly trained and specialized in more complex eye health issues. This includes surgery on the eye, LASIK vision correction, removal of cataracts, or surgery related to eye trauma or burns. They can prescribe medications to treat eye conditions. Currently, there are more than 23,000 ophthalmologists practicing in the United States, according to the American Medical Association.

After completing undergraduate study, an ophthalmologist goes on to medical school like any physician. After becoming licensed physicians, a doctor must complete three or more years of special residency to become an ophthalmologist.

Working Together

Optometrists and ophthalmologists work together to provide care for patients. In many cases, an optometrist will perform routine exams and prescribe eyeglasses and contacts while referring patients whose eye exams turn up issues to the ophthalmologist who can then provide specialized care. An optometrist may assist an ophthalmologist with pre- or post-operative eye care for those who need surgery. If you’re looking for a place to start and just need a routine exam, it’s often best to start with an optometrist, who will let you know if you need to see an ophthalmologist.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.