AN EYE ON YOUR HEALTH
HOW OFTEN should you have your eyes examined? This is a question I find myself asking my patients daily. Most have no idea, and those who offer some kind of answer, more often than not, respond, “every two years”. The reality being that they return when they need or want new eyewear, invariably every two to four years.
While that regimen may be fine when we have the benefit of youth on our side, I’m afraid it isn’t the intelligent approach as middle age creeps in. In a similar manner that annual check-ups with our general practitioners become important, so does an annual eye examination. At Eye Q Optical, we recommend that for everyone 35 years and over, or in particular high-risk groups, for example, diabetics, persons with an immediate family history of glaucoma and the severely short-sighted, check-ups be doen annually.
I’m always impressed at how many of my patients have heard of the disease glaucoma and then disappointed that so few know anything about how to limit their risk in this regard.
West Indians are blessed with many awesome qualities and attributes, but, unfortunately, they are also more prone to developing this sight-threatening disease. Now, while we don’t know the definitive causes of the most common type of glaucoma and cannot cure it, we do know how to prevent it stealing your sight. Yes, that’s right, glaucoma will be the silent thief in the night gradually robbing you of your precious gift of sight if left undiagnosed; and herein lies the greatest problem with the disease. SAVE YOUR VISION By the time you notice something is wrong, it’s too late to save your vision!
Just this week, I saw a lovely gentleman from the country who presented for his first-ever eye examination in his mid-50s. I’m always worried when they tell me this and, in this case, my concern proved grounded. Tired of using the ‘pharmacy glasses’ to help him read, he wanted something that he could ‘judge’. On the initial examination, he appeared quite perfect. Awesome distance vision, easily achieving 20/20 vision without the need for glasses and with some glasses for reading could easily read the finest of print; typical for his age. However, when I took a look in his eyes, my heart sank. His optic nerve showed typical quite advanced glaucoma damage and I knew his eye pressure would be high, about twice the highest maximum ‘normal’ pressure. I personally took him to the ophthalmologist and begged him to see him so he could start on pressurelowering drops immediately.
And that’s the kicker. Noticeable visual loss from glaucoma is quite preventable by using eye drops daily. These drops don’t cure the disease but rather slow its progression, so the earlier you attend for examination, the more likely we are to be able to save your sight so you never notice any symptoms from the disease.
Comprehensive eye examinations not only screen for glaucoma but other treatable eye and general health issues, as well as the more sinister conditions like brain tumours.
Eighty per cent of the world’s blindness is preventable. Surely, an annual examination is not too high a price to pay to retain what is arguably our most important sense.
At Eye Q Optical, we are available to provide comprehensive eye examinations performed by fully qualified and locally registered optometrists from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Our charge is very reasonably priced at $3,500, and we accept all major health insurances.
How much is your sight worth to you?