Regular eye exams are an invaluable tool in maintaining eye health by detecting and preventing disease. Some diseases, such as glaucoma, develop gradually without causing pain or vision loss, so patients may not notice that anything is wrong until significant and irreversible damage has been done. Early detection of eye diseases can allow for a choice of treatment options and reduced risk of permanent damage.
Who should get an eye exam?
Patients should see their doctor for a comprehensive eye exam every one to three years, depending on their age, risk of disease and overall physical condition. Children should have regular tests to ensure the proper development of their vision and prevent any interference with their academic achievements. Older adults are often at a higher risk for eye conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. Even if your eyes are healthy, you should still have a regular eye exam to detect any problems as soon as possible and begin necessary treatment.
Common Eye Conditions
The most common eye conditions diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam involve refractive errors that cause blurry vision for patients. These conditions affect millions of people in the US and often get progressively worse as patients age. Fortunately, refractive errors can be easily treated to let patients enjoy clear vision at all distances.
Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a vision condition in which nearby objects are clear and distant objects appear blurry. This may be caused by an eye that is longer than normal, causing the light rays to focus in front of the retina. Corrections, such as with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery, cause the light rays to focus on the retina. Myopia affects nearly one-third of all people in the US to some degree, with symptoms usually appearing before the age of 20. Patients with myopia have difficulty focusing on objects in the distance, such as a chalkboard or TV.
Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is a condition in which the eye focuses on distant objects better than on objects closer to the eye, so nearby ob jects appear blurry. This happens when light rays refract, or bend, incorrectly in the eye. The eye is designed to focus images directly on the surface of the retina, but when the cornea is incorrectly curved, light rays focus behind the surface, producing a blurry image.
Astigmatism occurs when the cornea curves slightly more in one direction than another. This oblong or football-shaped cornea causes blurred vision .While the cornea usually refracts to focus light on the retina, some of the light focuses in front of or behind the retina in patients with astigmatism. In addition to blurry vision, patients with astigmatism may also experience headaches, eye strain and fatigue. The severity of symptoms depends on the degree of astigmatism in the eyes.
Presbyopia is a natural change in our eyes’ ability to focus. It occurs when the soft crystalline lens of the eye starts to harden. This loss of flexibility affects the lens’ ability to focus light in the eye, causing nearby objects to look blurry. Presbyopia happens to everyone starting in about our 40s or 50s — even in patients who have had laser vision correction. The effects of presbyopia can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, including bifocals and multifocals; multifocal lens implantation, including Crystalens™, ReZoom® and ReSTOR®; conventional surgery; and monovision LASIK. Laser surgeries such as conventional LASIK and PRK cannot correct presbyopia because they reshape the cornea rather than treat the lens.
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a common condition affecting those who spend hours each day in front of a computer screen, which includes more than 70 percent of Americans who work on a computer. This condition may cause headaches, loss of focus, tired eyes, double and blurred vision, as well as neck and shoulder pain as the eyes strain to focus on the characters and images on the screen. To reduce the symptoms and damage caused by CVS, patients should see their doctor for a computer vision exam, and may benefit from computer eyeglasses or other visual aids.
All of these vision conditions can be effectively corrected through eyeglasses and contact lenses. Eyewear may be used during certain activities, such as watching television or driving, or at all times. At our practice, we offer patients a wide selection of eyeglass frames and lenses in our Optical Shop. We also offer contact lens fittings.
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