What do your eyes say about you?
Eye exams are an important part of overall healthcare for everyone. Your eyes are the only places on your body that provide a clear view of your blood vessels, which can tell a lot about your overall health. In addition to eye conditions, your eyecare provider can also see signs of health conditions, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Eyecare providers sometimes even see signs of diabetes before a person is aware they have it.

Diabetes and Your Eyes
Since you won’t always experience symptoms of diabetes related to the eyes, regular eye exams are crucial. In fact, if you wait until you begin to have problems with your vision, damage may have already occurred. An annual dilated eye exam is especially important because it gives your eyecare provider a better view inside your eyes to look for vision problems related to diabetes, as well as other health conditions. The good news is most diabetes-related vision loss can be prevented when it’s detected early.
In addition to an eye exam, here are some things you can do to keep your eyes healthy:

  • Make sure your A1C levels are under good control. If your A1C levels are elevated for a long period of time, you could begin to experience some issues with your eye health.
  • Watch your blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause damage to your eyes and creates additional problems with diabetes.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking is harmful to your eyes and increases your risk for diabetic retinopathy.
  • Understand diabetes vision loss


Take the mystery out of your eye exam.
Here are a few key elements you can expect in an eye exam.

Provide your medical and eye history.
This will help your eyecare provider evaluate your risk for vision problems, eye diseases and other medical conditions.

What’s a Snellen Chart?
It’s that chart with rows of letters in different sizes. It tests how well you can see far away. The smaller the letters you can read, the better your distance vision.

Which is clearer? One or two?
Your eyecare provider shines a light into your eyes to check your vision and estimate your eyewear prescription. To fine-tune your prescription, your eyecare provider places a series of lenses in front of your eyes and asks which helps you see more clearly.

Cover the left, then the right.
This tests how well your eyes work together. You cover one eye and look at an object across the room. Your eyecare provider watches how far your uncovered eye moves to see the object.

Expect a little puff of air.
The “puff test”—a common test for glaucoma— measures the fluid pressure inside your eyes. It takes just a quick puff of air in each eye. Your eyecare provider may also shine a special blue light in your eyes to test for this condition.

Get the inside scoop.
Dilating drops enlarge your pupils for a better view inside your eyes to help detect signs of eye and health conditions. The drops may make your vision blurry and your eyes sensitive to light for several hours.

See the big picture.
Your eyecare provider gets a magnified view of the front and inside of your eyes using a slit lamp, or biomicroscope. This helps detect signs of eye conditions, like cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

When should you have an eye exam?
Eye exams are an important part of overall healthcare for your entire family, from children to grandparents, and everyone in between.

Babies

  • About 80% of what we learn is through our eyes.
  • Eye Exams: Six months, around two or three years old, before kindergarten


Children

  • Studies show that 60% of students identified as problem learners have undetected vision troubles.
  • Eye Exams: Once a year


Adults

  • Even if you’ve had laser vision surgery or have naturally good vision, you still need an annual eye exam. Your eyecare provider can detect signs of health conditions during your exam.
  • Eye Exams: Once a year


Seniors

  • As we age, we’re more susceptible to cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Detecting these conditions early can help keep your eyes healthy.
  • Eye Exams: Once a year


For more eyecare information, follow VSP Vision Care:
Twitter - @VSPVisionCare
Facebook – VSPVisionCare
Blog – VSPBlog.com

Last updated by Emily Coles Nov 13, 2013.

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