As someone who is overly worried about my eyes, I feel like everything is a reason to go to the eye doctor. I'll make an appointment at the drop of a hat, get dilated, let them poke around — the whole shebang. But for others, the very thought of anyone coming near their peepers is enough to make them faint.
For this reason, and many others, there are people who skip out on their regular exams. And, others still, who never go at all, even when they're dealing with some chronic eye issues. According to WebMD, eye exams aren't just for poor vision. They're an important way of detecting eye problems before you have symptoms.
I know money is an issue, and time, and the whole squeamish factor, but if you can get your paws on an eye exam, stick with it. The doctor will check your vision to see whether or not you need glasses; the pressure of your eye, which looks for glaucoma; and give a full eye exam, which involves dilating the eye and peaking around inside the eyeball.
Everyone should get a comprehensive eye exam every two years, but if you haven't gone in a hot minute, or you don't think it's necessary, then here are some signs a visit to the eye doctor is in order.
1. You Always Have A Headache
If your head is pounding all the time, then it might be time to head over to your trusty optometrist. According to YourSightMatters.com, "A routine eye exam can turn up a variety of issues that may be causing headaches. In some cases staring at the computer screen too long, or working on overly bright or dim light may be the culprit. Adjusting workplace lighting, or remembering to take a break every hour or so to give your eyes a rest can remedy those problems." In other, more severe cases, your headaches may be caused by astigmatism, long-sightedness, or even glaucoma, so it's important to get yourself checked out.
2. Your Eye Is Infected
Eye infections can get gross real quick, so if you have one brewing, be sure to get over to the eye doc ASAP. According to WebMD, symptoms of eye infection include feeling like something is in your eye, redness, pain, discharge from the eye, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. You may need a course of antibiotics drops to clear things up.
3. There are Bright Flashes And Floaters Galore
Lots of people have floaters. You know, the little squiggly pieces of dust in your vision that are super noticeable on a white wall, or when you look up at the sky. (Sorry, now you probably can't unsee them.) They're usually nothing to worry about. But if you have a sudden increase in floaters, as well as flashing lights or a shadow in your peripheral vision, it could be a sign of a detached retina. According to Katherine Lee on EverydayHealth.com, this is an absolute eye emergency. And unless it's treated quickly, a detached retina can lead to blindness.
4. That Eye Pain Is Becoming A Bit Much
If your eyes are bothering you, it's really no surprise you should get an eye exam. And yet, so many people put up with painful eye symptoms, and never do anything about them. Don't be like this — if your eyes are hurting, go see the doctor. Usually the culprit is simple dry eye, which can be solved with some drops. But sometimes eye pain can be a sign of an injury, or a condition like glaucoma, a scratched cornea, or even eye cancer, said Lee. So yea, don't let it go on too long.
5. You've Been Squinting For Days
If you need to squint to see the computer, or to read road signs while driving, then it could be a sign you need glasses. Besides the obvious blurriness, we subconsciously squint in an effort to change the eye and make it easier to see. According to Scienceline.UCSB.edu, "squinting allows us to see better in two ways: by changing the shape of our eye and letting in a limited amount of light that is more easily focused." But don't get any ideas — squinting forever is not an effective or sustainable way to deal with the issue. Go pick yourself out a nice, new pair of specs.
6. You Have Diabetes, Or It Runs In Your Family
If you have diabetes, then you probably already know how to properly look after your blood sugar. But monitoring your vision is another important aspect of dealing with the disease. As Ed Zimney, M.D., noted on EverydayHealth.com, "... diabetes is another systemic illness that can damage the retina and be seen on eye exam even before loss of vision occurs ... it’s [also] possible for someone without any symptoms and perfect vision not to know they have diabetes and to have it recognized for the first time on examination of the eyes." So best get yourself checked out.
Sitting around with dilated eyes may not be your ideal way to spend an afternoon, but getting a check-up every two years is imperative for good eye health.
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