At first glance, many people may think that a comprehensive eye exam is just a vision test and that they are only important if you are having trouble with your vision. But, getting your vision tested and your eye health checked regularly can have many long term benefits that go well beyond the eye doctors office.
Because of the eye’s small nerves and blood vessels, delicate structures, and close proximity to your brain, a comprehensive eye exam is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your overall health. Not only can your eye doctor review and assess your eye health, they can often identify symptoms of conditions elsewhere in the body. Some of these could be life threatening including conditions like brain tumors, aneurysms, high blood pressure and diabetes.
The optic nerve in the eye is essentially an extension of the brain. Many neurological condition that affects nerve cells can be detected with an eye exam.
A comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist can detect problems with eye movement and muscle control. The muscles responsible for eye movement are supplied with nerve cells that are controlled by certain parts of the brain. Mental health conditions, stroke, Parkinson's Disease and brain injuries, may affect the parts of the brain that control eye coordination and tracking.
An eye doctor may be the first healthcare professional to detect high blood pressure during a comprehensive eye exam. The fine blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye can help identify risks of a stroke or heart attack before they occur. The information obtained through an eye exam can help other healthcare providers treat patients preventively to decrease the risks of cardiovascular disease.
According to the Diabetes Canada, as many as one million Canadians are living with undiagnosed diabetes. Optometrists will sometimes see indicators of diabetes in the eyes before the disease is formally diagnosed. Unfortunatley, diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your retina. Catching this type of damage early by comprehensive eye exam can reduce the risk of diabetes-related vision loss.
A comprehensive eye exam includes tests of peripheral vision and eye muscle function. These tests can assist in the detection of a brain tumor. Brain tumors, depending on their location in the brain, can damage the nerves that supply the muscles of the eyes and can also cause loss of peripheral vision. This can result in changes in vision such as abnormal eye movements and double vision.
A comprehensive eye exam can identify unusual structures and growths within the eye. Also, one of the most common areas of the body where ski cancer is first detected is surrounding tissue around the eyes.
Taking measures to maintain your eye health with regular comprehensive eye exams is an important part of our overall health!