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Vision changes are not uncommon, especially with age, but you may be at risk for certain eye diseases and be unaware of them. These conditions can deteriorate your vision, not only increasing your chances of vision loss and blindness but also putting you at risk for more health problems, including falls and fractures, injuries, poor mental health, and social isolation. Vision impairment can significantly impact your quality of life beyond the physical aspects. However, you may be surprised to discover that many eye conditions that can lead to vision loss or blindness can be prevented or treated. This is why an eye exam is essential for maintaining eye health.

Why get an eye exam?

You may not notice your vision change until it’s too late, and it can be harder to treat eye diseases when they’ve progressed. Beyond checking for how well your eyes see, an eye exam can detect eye diseases and allow you to find the best preventative measures or treatments to stop or slow their development. Undergoing one every one or two years can help you closely monitor your eye health and keep your vision intact for longer. Here are some of the conditions an eye exam can catch:

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss and blindness. Not many people realize they have the condition as there are usually no early warning signs, and it progresses slowly. By the time you notice the vision changes, it may be harder to treat or lead to irreversible vision loss. As such, it’s important to have regular eye exams to detect it early. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is used to check your eyes for glaucoma, and if it’s detected, your doctor can discuss treatment options to prevent it from worsening. Glaucoma currently has no cure, but early detection through an eye exam can help you maintain clear vision for longer.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye responsible for sharp central vision. The condition is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 50. Lifestyle factors like diet, smoking, and weight can also increase the risk for the disease. During an eye exam, you may be asked to look at an Amsler grid, which helps you notice any blurry, distorted, or blank spots in your field of vision. A machine can also be used to scan your retina and create detailed images so your doctor can understand what’s going on. Early detection and treatment can help slow the progression of AMD.

Cataracts

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye, causing blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, and increased sensitivity to light. Your doctor may also dilate your eyes to look at your lenses and spot any clouding that may be causing faded vision. Cataracts are very common, especially with age, but they can be treated with surgery to restore vision. Early treatment can involve new corrective lenses, but you can also be recommended to avoid prolonged sun exposure without protection, which can increase your risk of cataracts. Wearing sunglasses can help you protect your eyes and the skin around it from sun damage and aging.

Dry eye

While your eyes can become dry from not blinking enough or age, it can also be a chronic condition. Dry eye is a condition that occurs when the eyes don’t produce enough tears or the quality of tears is poor. It can cause irritation, burning, stinging, and a feeling of something being in your eye. During your eye exam, your doctor can perform tests to measure the volume of your tears, tear quality, how quickly you make them, and how long it takes them to dry up. If you take too long to produce tears or they dry quickly, you may have a dry eye condition. Dry eyes may also indicate more serious chronic health issues, such as lupus or vitamin A deficiency. An eye exam may shed light on other ailments and help with early prevention.¬†

Article written by Sophia Emma

Exclusively for LifeStyle Magazine

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