Why You Need a Routine Eye Exam Even If You Have Perfect Vision

It’s easy to take good vision and healthy eyes for granted. In fact, as long as we’re seeing well — with corrective lenses or not — it stands to reason our eyes must be healthy too, right? And as long as we’re seeing well, there’s really no reason to visit the eye doctor every year for a routine exam. That’d just be a waste of time … right? Wrong.

There’s an old saying: “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” It sounds cute, but when it comes to your health, it’s really pretty irresponsible. That’s because even if everything seems OK on the “outside,” you can still have diseases and other medical problems developing on the inside. And even if those problems aren’t causing any noticeable symptoms, they still need to be treated to prevent them from becoming much more serious.

With your eyes, typically the first symptom you notice is a problem with your vision. By the time those symptoms develop, there’s a chance irreversible damage has already occurred. Having routine eye exams at Pack Optical — even though your eyes seem healthy — is the best way to “catch” these problems in their earliest stages, before a problem like permanent vision loss occurs.

How routine eye exams prevent serious vision problems

Routine eye exams include a series of tests and measurements designed to evaluate both the anatomy of your eyes and the way your eyes work and “see.” At the start of your exam, you’ll have a chance to describe any concerns or unusual symptoms you might be experiencing, and you’ll be asked some questions about your vision as well. As you might expect, part of your exam will involve reading an eye chart. But that’s just one small part. Other exams will measure how well you see at different distances, how well your eyes work together as a “team,” whether or not you have an astigmatism, if you’re nearsighted (myopic) or farsighted (hyperopic) and how well you can see to either side without moving your head (your peripheral vision).

Dr. Poonawala will carefully examine the anatomy of your eye, using a magnifying device to evaluate your corneas and other external structures, looking for early signs of infection and other signs that could indicate a developing disease or other issue in its early stages. She’ll also use a special instrument to measure the pressure inside your eyes to assess your risk of developing glaucoma.

Examining your retinas

Next, Dr. Poonawala will use a special device called an Optomap® to look inside your eyes and evaluate your retinas, the light-sensitive part located at the very back of your eye. The retina contains special structures designed to capture light. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other retinal diseases often cause no symptoms in their very early stages, and many people only realize they have the disease when they develop irreversible vision loss, including “blind spots” in the central field of vision that can prevent them from driving or doing many other daily activities. By using the Optomap, Dr. Poonawala will be able to spot the earliest signs of AMD and other retina diseases.

The Optomap also allows Dr. Poonawala to look at the optic nerve, which is also located at the very back of your eye. The nerve carries information about what you see to your brain, which “interprets” the information and “translates” it into recognizable images. During this part of the exam, Dr. Poonawala will be looking for early signs of damage caused by glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and around the world. Like AMD, glaucoma typically causes no early symptoms, and many people don’t know they have the disease until they begin to lose their sight. (In fact, because glaucoma usually causes no symptoms until vision loss occurs, it's often called "the silent thief of sight.")

With Optomap technology, there’s no need to use special drops to dilate or widen your pupils, which means your visit is faster and your eyes won’t be super sensitive to light when your exam is over. And, like the rest of your eye exam, the Optomap exam is completely noninvasive and painless.

Make sure your eyes stay healthy

By having routine eye exams every year, you can significantly decrease your risks for many types of eye disease, including diseases that cause permanent blindness. If it's been awhile since your last eye exam, book an appointment online today.

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