Seeing Better Than You Have Before

Seeing The Future: Yearly Eye Exams Help You Change Potential Paths

by Linda Bates

If you're an adult who hasn't been getting yearly vision exams, it's time to go back. Even if you think your vision is fine, you need to have an optometrist check out your eyes' physical structure, too. Doing so lets you modify your diet and habits to change your future from one with a potential lack of sight to one that's bright.

The Early Bird Gets the Lifestyle Advice

Vision exams still include those charts that determine whether you need glasses or if your current prescription has changed. They also include tests for various physical diseases that can manifest in your eyes, such as glaucoma. The optometrist will also check out the back of your eye to see the retina, and this is one test that you really do want to get every year because it allows you to monitor the progress of something called drusen. If you catch them early enough, you can potentially reduce or even head off future trouble with lifestyle changes.

Drusen are tiny deposits that commonly occur as people age. However, drusen are also a potential sign of age-related macular degeneration. It's important to note that not everyone who has drusen goes on to develop full-blown macular degeneration with vision loss. But they are something to monitor on a regular basis.

In fundus photography, which many optometrists now use in place of those pupil-dilating eyedrops, drusen appear as pale spots. They can appear in the macula or outside it and can become paler over time -- that generally means they're becoming more prominent. They can appear in one eye or in both. If you do find you have drusen but no related vision problems, it's time for some changes.

Daily Changes, Yearly Checks

Protect your eyes from UV rays and smoke. Wear sunglasses and hats -- the brim should be wide enough to prevent sunlight from leaking in around your glasses. Get UV coatings on regular glasses as well. As for smoke, stop smoking if you smoke, and tell others in your household to stop smoking inside or near windows and doors if they smoke outside. Stick to the nonsmoking section in restaurants, and move away from groups of smokers when you're out and about.

Eat healthy, too. Get those leafy greens into your diet daily, and reduce the amount of fat that you eat. Don't go completely fat-free, though; you need some healthy fats in your diet every day. You might want to consider supplemental lutein and zeaxanthin, but do not take those without discussing it with your eye doctor first. And of course, a healthy amount of exercise is always a good thing, too.

Finally, get those yearly eye checks. Monitor the drusen to ensure they don't become larger or more numerous. Drusen have "dry" and "wet" forms, and you want to monitor for signs the drusen have become wet, for these are fast-progressing symptoms of "wet" age-related macular degeneration. If you have wet drusen, then you do need medical intervention.

But don't get alarmed at the mere presence of drusen if your sight is doing fine. See your optometrist yearly to keep an eye -- no pun intended -- on those spots. Follow the lifestyle change advice, too. Eating and living healthy are beneficial even if those drusen never change.

To learn more, contact an eye clinic like Complete Family Vision Care.