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Why do I need an eye examination if I see “fine”?

I’m always surprised whenever my staff asks a new patient “when was your last eye examination” and they respond with “in high school” or “in the military” or worse yet “never”.  Studies have shown that vision is the one sense people fear losing the most (and rightly so), even above losing use of their arms or legs. So why are there still so many out there that don’t receive regular eye care? Why the disconnect?

I’m not about to debate the causes, because there are many. Access to care, especially in rural areas. Cost of care, although this is becoming less of a problem. (Here in Colorado, most people are now insured, and the latest statistic shows that almost 25% of Coloradans have at least Medicaid). Awareness- for years, eye doctors haven’t been good about educating the public. Fortunately, the American Optometric Association and industry partners have done a great job in the last few years with television, print, and Internet awareness campaigns showing the benefits of routine care.

Some of the hidden diseases that I’ve personally uncovered in my 20 year career, even when the patient thought they “see fine” include cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal tears, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, dry eyes, and diabetes, to name a few. Unfortunately, some of these conditions cause irreversible blindness, so once the vision is gone, it’s gone for good. Even folks who “see fine” don’t know what they don’t know, and most times I can improve their vision with a change in prescription.

Researchers found that more than half of the asymptomatic patients who presented for a routine eye exam had a change in ocular status or care compared with 77% of symptomatic routine eye exam patients, according to a study inOptometry and Vision Science. From the Waterloo Eye Study of 6,397 subjects, researchers focused on the 2,656 asymptomatic patients. Of those, 1,078 (41%) patients had spectacle prescription changes, 434 (16%) patients had new critical diagnoses, 809 (31%) patients had new managements and 1,535 (58%) had at least one of these, according to researchers. They found that as age increased, so did the likelihood of a patient having a significant change. Further, the longer a patient waits for their next vision assessment, the older they will be at presentation, which increases the risk of age-related conditions.

So don’t hesitate to phone our office for your *routine* eye health and vision exam with either myself or Dr. Baca. We look forward to “seeing you”!