Alamo Optometry Blog

October 4, 2010

Why Do I Need to Get My Eyes Checked?

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 7:03 pm

 Why Do I Need to Get My Eyes Checked?

(As appeared in Alamo Today, October 2010, pg. 29)

             Lately at the office we have noticed that many people are deciding that just because their glasses are fine and they see “OK”, there is no need to have their eyes checked.  There can be several issues with the eyes including binocular vision disorders, and retinal issues that would not necessarily affect vision or have any tangible symptoms that would bring you into the office.  I am not sure if it just poor education on my part or patients are just not fully aware of how important vision is and the importance of preserving ocular health.  Regardless, here are just some of the reasons why vision and eye health should not be ignored.

            I think most people would be surprised at how many medications and medical conditions can affect the eyes and vision.  Some of the obvious ones are diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  Most of these patients are aware of the potential ocular side effects of these conditions and are therefore following up with their medical doctor and coming into the office for annual exams.  However, as an example, I have had a few patients lately who suffer from colitis, and did not know of the potential effects on the eyes.  They were astounded to find out about the inflammation associated with colitis and any other –itis disease such as hepatitis, arthritis, and auto-immune conditions such as lupus and sarcoidosis; and how it can go to the eye and cause an iritis, and it can happen with or without a flare-up of the systemic condition. 

            In addition, many of the medications that our patients take, including prescription and over-the-counter, can and do have ocular effects.  Some of the most common of these are anti-histamines, anti-depressants, birth control and hormone replacement.  Many people feel that because these medications are so commonplace and in some instances not prescription that they don’t need to be revealed at an eye exam.  Knowing this information can definitely help in diagnosing such issues as contact lens intolerance, dry eyes, and blurry vision.  Obviously, these and other medications affect some people more than others; however, knowing about the medications and changes in dosage can help elicit a reason for a problem or can help diagnose a problem that at the time might have no symptoms, but would lead to issues down the line. 

            I think the take home message here is that because the eye is an integral part of the body, all systemic issues and medications need to be discussed with the doctor.   Generally, patients that have diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol have been educated enough that they understand the potential effects on the retina and that through a dilated exam the blood vessels can be viewed and evaluated for overall health.  I tell patients all the time that the retina is the only place in the body where blood vessels can be observed without an invasive procedure.  If the retina looks healthy and normal, you can generally assume that the vessels in other organs such as your liver and kidney are also satisfactory.  In contrast, once in while a diagnosis of diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, and a congenital retinal disorder (which was done recently) can be made just from the eye exam alone because of a prescription change and/or certain changes in the retina or optic nerve. 

            Preventative care in any field including general health, dentistry, and eye care generally reduces issues that would have developed down the line if left unchecked.  It is generally a good idea to have your teeth checked regularly before pain and/or expensive procedures need to be done because a condition went unchecked for years.  The same goes for physicals.  A large percentage of the time, everything is fine.  If something is found in the course of the exam or ancillary testing, the prognosis is almost always better after an early diagnosis and early treatment.  The same can definitely be said of the eyes.  Even if your glasses are “fine”, we recommend using your insurance for a comprehensive examination to ensure that your overall health is being maintained along with your vision and ocular well-being.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear.  He can be reached at 820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo.  Visit our website at: www.alamooptometry.com and become a fan on our Alamo Optometry Facebook page.

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