Routine ophthalmic examinations are recommended to be done once a year, even for patients who do not have any problems at all, because only in this way it can be discovered in a timely manner if there is any disease that may not manifest itself with any symptoms at all in the beginning.
A delay of even a few years can make the difference between normal vision and blindness, while certain conditions can be very obvious, others can occur insidiously and imperceptibly.
In my daily work, I have seen many different examples, where, due to a late examination, it is unfortunately not possible to start timely treatment, and because of this, vision loss occurs. There are also many examples where, with timely detection of the disease, it is finally possible to achieve and preserve maximum visual acuity.
As an example, I will cite a patient who first came for an examination at the insistence of his daughter. He complained for a long time that he had a slight pain in the area of the eye, but he did not decide to visit a doctor. Examination revealed very high eye pressure and chronic glaucoma with advanced damage to the optic nerve. With the given therapy, we managed to normalize the eye pressure, but unfortunately there is still no therapy that will succeed in restoring the nerve changes, which is why the patient finally had about 10% vision.
Although this is a frightening example, it shows how necessary it is to have a regular and routine ophthalmic examination.
Another example is a 4-year-old girl whose parents brought her for a routine examination, without any symptoms. During the examination, it was discovered that the girl has a diopter in one eye and therefore low vision, i.e. undeveloped vision, and since the other eye did not have any diopter, the parents did not notice that she could not see. She was prescribed an appropriate diopter, as well as exercises with full coverage of the healthy eye, thus forcing her to see only with the weaker eye and develop her eyesight. She was able to achieve maximum visual acuity in both eyes with regular follow-up. If this condition was not detected in time, the low vision of that eye could be lifelong, because unfortunately after the 10th year of life these exercises have no or very little effect.
That is why it is very important to start regular eye examinations from an early age, because untreated changes can be irreversible and affect the entire quality of life further on.
What happens at an ophthalmic examination?
During the examination, the structures of the front part of the eye and the eyelids are examined with the help of a biomicroscope, and with an additional lens, a magnified view of the retina and other structures in the back of the eye is seen.
The pupil is the only window in the body, which allows us to see the blood vessels of the retina and detect early even systemic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and other blood and rheumatological diseases.
Refraction is a procedure to determine the diphtheria that exists, and if a change in the prescription for glasses is detected, it may indicate the existence of other conditions, including cataracts, keratoconus, thyroid problems, etc.
Regular checking of eye pressure – tonometry is important for early detection of glaucoma, which is the leading cause of blindness. Glaucoma has no symptoms until it is in its advanced stage and irreversible vision loss has already occurred. If glaucoma is detected in time, it can be treated effectively, usually only with local therapy – drops. Another way to monitor this disease is visual field testing, and we also use this test in various neurological and brain diseases.
As we age, physiological changes occur that are normal and yet can have a major impact on daily activities – such is the case with the appearance of cataracts, which is a clouding of the natural lens. Cataract leads to reduction and blurring of vision, i.e. seeing as if through a fog. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed, and with a timely examination, the best time for surgery can be chosen when it can be performed at the safest stage and significantly improve the patient’s vision.
Dry eye syndrome is another very common problem, and an examination can reveal the early stages of dry eyes and start treatment, which will allow for more comfortable functioning and clearer vision.
Regular eye exams are short and painless, take no more than an hour of your day, and make a significant difference in maintaining clear vision and healthy eyes for the rest of your life. Even if you have no symptoms, schedule your regular eye exam because the most serious eye diseases are often asymptomatic.
dr. Kristina Shisharica