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Why Is An Annual Exam So Important?

Often people ask, “Do I really need to come in for an eye exam? I see just fine.”

That’s a great question and I totally understand why people would ask it, but let me explain a few things that may change your mindset and help you see, no pun indented, why annual eye examinations are as important as your annual physicals and bi-annual dental visits.

The Importance Of Eye Exams

When it’s time for your annual physical, do you think to yourself, “I feel good; do I really need to go for my annual visit?” or do you see the value in knowing your blood pressure, blood sugar, liver enzymes, and whether or not you need that mammogram or colonoscopy order?

I recently saw a patient who was having a vision issue, and upon dilating him, discovered a condition that is related to Carotid Artery Disease. I immediately set him up for a Carotid Artery study and 2 days later he was in surgery. I have had 6 instances of Ocular Melanoma discovered during dilated examinations in the office, 4 of which were symptomless. We’ve had many retinal detachments discovered with dilation that were asymptomatic.

Furthermore, Glaucoma is a disease that is undetectable to the person who has it until it’s already begun to significantly impact their vision, as it ravages peripheral vision first, so it goes undetected by the individual without annual eye examinations.

What About Young Children?

Before children enter first grade, they should have annual eye examinations, regardless of how they do on their vision screening at the pediatrician or at school. If they are amblyopic (unable to see out of one eye due to certain issues causing the “good eye” to take over), the child will likely peek through his or her fingers or around the paddle to see out of the good eye during a vision screening, which makes the deficit go undetected for years.

This was exactly the case with a patient just a week ago. She was a week away from her seventh birthday, and correcting the vision at this age required correcting her with full-time glasses in the highest prescription (versus slowly moving her into that very high prescription), and she will also now be patching the “good” eye for many hours a day.

Protect Your Sight: Schedule Annual Eye Exams

I see my dentist every six months for cleanings even though my teeth are healthy, and I’ve never had a cavity simply because I want to keep it that way. I have a mouth full of teeth and I know if something happened to them, they could fix the problem and I would still be able to chew my food. However, I only have two eyes, and if I lose my sight, no one can give it back to me, and the pain of that loss will be with me forever. It’s so important to schedule your annual eye exam, and we would love to serve as your eye care specialist.

By Dr. Susan Lee, Optometrist

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.