8 Reasons to Go In for An Eye Exam
Here’s an eye-opening statistic: Nearly 9 out of 10 people consider sight to be the most valuable sense. (We’re guessing you might agree.)
“As with anything that is critical and important, you have to take care of it,” says Andrew Iwach, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
So how do you protect two of your most important assets—your eyes?
If you have health insurance but don’t have a supplemental vision plan, you may want to consider buying one.
Interested in insurance that covers eye exams? Contact a licensed insurance agent today at (800) 827-9990. Shop online here.
Once you secure coverage, start your care by scheduling regular annual eye exams, which can help you spot eye issues early, when they’re easier to treat.
If you’re dealing with vision issues right now, check the list of top warning signs below. If you’re experiencing any of them, don’t wait for your next eye appointment—call your doctor today.
1. Your vision is blurry
If you’re struggling to read magazines, see signs on your street, or watch your favorite show on TV, you should be evaluated by an eye doctor.
If you’re experiencing blurry vision, it could be as simple as needing to get a new prescription for your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
But blurry vision could also be a sign of a more serious condition like glaucoma, which is the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide. Blurry vision is also a possible sign of macular degeneration, which causes blurry or reduced vision and most commonly affects people over the age of 55.
Blurry vision could also be an early sign of cataracts developing in one or both of your eyes. Cataracts, or the clouding of your eyes’ lenses, become more common with age, and most people age 80 or older have them or have had surgery to treat them.
But cataracts can affect younger people too. Everything from eye injuries and surgery to the use of steroids to treat conditions such as arthritis or lupus can cause you to develop them.
Blurred vision could even be a warning sign of diabetes. High blood sugar can affect the shape of the lens inside the eye, causing rapid changes to your prescription.
Blurriness can sometimes happen in just one eye, making it more difficult to notice. Causes can include a vision prescription change, a cataract, or macular degeneration.
Try closing one eye, then the other. Notice a difference? If so, call your eye doctor.
2. Your side vision is off
Peripheral vision loss that comes on suddenly could also be caused by a retinal detachment. When that occurs, it means your retina—a layer of tissue in the back of your eye that sends images to your brain—has been pulled away from its normal position. A retinal detachment could be caused by an injury or simply by aging. And because it’s not necessarily painful, you may not notice it until it affects your vision.
Other signs of a retinal tear or detachment? A sudden increase in floaters or spots in your vision that may look like black or gray specks, strings, or cobwebs.
A retinal detachment is an emergency, so if you have symptoms similar to the ones noted above, call your eye doctor or go to the emergency room immediately. If you catch something like a retinal detachment before it damages your vision and have it repaired within a few days, chances are good that you’ll recover well.
3. You’re having trouble focusing
Starting around age 45, focusing on objects up close could get harder to do.
That’s when you start holding objects farther and farther away to read them. This happens to just about everybody, so it will likely happen to you.
Don’t worry: It’s normal for your eyes to lose the ability to focus (i.e. presbyopia), and it will continue to progress over time.
Luckily, the solution is simple: You can get reading glasses, bifocals, or bifocal contact lenses, which help make your vision clearer. Book a visit with your eye doctor to find the best solution for you.
Having trouble reading your computer screen? Supplemental vision insurance can help you get the care you need. Contact a licensed insurance agent today at (800) 827-9990, or start shopping online with HealthMarkets.
4. You lose your vision, and then it comes back
Any sudden loss of vision—even if it’s temporary—should be treated immediately. It could be a sign of a stroke. Poor circulation or a blockage in the eye’s blood vessels can interrupt blood flow. If you think this is happening to you, call 9-1-1 right away.
5. Colors seem less vivid in one eye
If you’re having trouble distinguishing colors, or they’re not appearing as sharp as usual, it could be the sign of a serious eye condition. If all of this is happening in one eye, it might be a problem with the optic nerve that connects to your brain, due to an infection or inflammation.
Inflammation of the optic nerve may be a sign of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that affects your brain and spinal cord. Other signs to watch for: eye pain, a narrowed field of vision, or flashing lights.
If your optic nerve is inflamed, your eye doctor may send you for an MRI to check for other signs of MS.
6. Your eyes are really dry
Usually, dry eye is just a nuisance and can be treated with over-the-counter remedies like artificial teardrops. But it can also affect your vision or damage the surface of your cornea, the clear outer layer at the front of your eye, according to the National Eye Institute.
Dry eyes—especially when accompanied by a dry mouth—could also be a symptom of Sjögren’s syndrome, an immune disorder that often occurs in people with chronic illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, both of which cause painful inflammation in your joints and other regions of your body.
From a doctor’s perspective, dry eyes are relatively common. Dr. Iwach has been seeing them a lot recently, especially in those who have been working from home and doing virtual meetings more often. The reason: You tend to blink less when staring intensely at a screen, Dr. Iwach says, which may make you more susceptible to dry eye symptoms.
7. You have eye pain
This may seem obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning.
“There’s a whole range of things that can cause discomfort in your eyes,” says Dr. Iwach. “Some are just a nuisance. But others are more serious.”
Eye pain could be caused by an infection or inflammation. Maybe an eyelash or a bit of dust got into your eye.
There’s also a less common type of glaucoma that causes eye pain, says Dr. Iwach. Either way, your ophthalmologist can help you figure out the cause.
8. You’re getting older
It’s a good idea to get a complete eye exam by age 40—and continue getting them in the years that follow, because that’s the time when early signs of eye diseases begin to show up.
Your doctor will screen you for eye diseases like glaucoma, which often has no noticeable symptoms early on.
“By the time people come in, we do what we can to save what remains, but it usually involves more significant interventions, and we have less vision to save,” says Dr. Iwach.
Bottom line: Don’t wait. Play it safe and book an appointment before you notice symptoms.