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Eyes on the Prize: Stay Healthy When Eye Problems Arise

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The epithet of “window to the soul” might not be arguably practical, but your eyes may have more insight than you think… into your health. Beyond maintaining good eyesight to go about your day-to-day, an annual eye-exam is an important screen for other conditions (diabetes, cancers, etc). Furthermore, ocular rashes, itches, and pains could be symptomatic of more troublesome conditions, so it’s always a good idea to get them checked out early.

More Painful Than The Dentist?

Given how often people are skipping annual eye-exams, one might think that deciphering between a “V” or a “Y” on a Snellen chart is just as painful as the drills and floss at the dentist. According to Lighthouse International, 86% of those most at risk for eye disease skip their routine exams. When asked why in a recent CDC survey, skippers responded:

  • 39.8% said they had skipped seeking care in the past year because of costs or lack of insurance
  • 35% said they didn’t seek eyesight care because they felt they didn’t need it
  • 4.5% said they could not get an appointment

It’s clear that deterrences are on the side of the consumer. While the obstacles to getting care are real, they are certainly surmountable.

Wh(e)y(e) You Should Get Your Eyes Checked

Beyond keeping your eyesight in good condition, it’s important to see a doctor especially if you’re at risk for certain diseases or if anything out of the ordinary arises (infections, rashes, blurriness, etc). These could be telling signs of a more serious condition. Here are the some reasons why it might be even more important for you to talk to an ophthalmologist.

  • You have diabetes or prediabetes. Almost 100 million people (20 million diabetics and 79 million prediabetics) are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, which is also the leading cause of adult blindness. The early to moderate stages often don’t cause changes in vision and are not noticeable to you, thus, it is important to have regular eye exams even if you aren’t having any problems. Fortunately, it’s also the most preventable. If you start experiencing blurriness or spots, get it checked out!
  • White pupils in photos with flash. If your usual redeye starts coming out  white in a photo, it may be a sign of retinoblastoma – a cancer of the eye. This happens because light refracts off the surface of the tumor. If you’re consistently noticing this, talk to a doctor right away. B
  • Unexplained blurriness. If you aren’t near-sighted and there isn’t an obvious environmental (long hours of computer time, excessive particulates in the air, etc) cause, changes in vision may be signs of high blood pressure, stroke, or infection.
  • Eye twitches. While most eye tics are nothing to worry about, they could be a sign of early neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. Hypoglycemia, or abnormally low blood sugar levels, caused by metabolic problems and diseases of the liver, kidneys, and pancreas could also be a reason for abnormal eye tics.  

These are just a few of the conditions that an eye checkup can diagnose and treat. Even if you don’t need vision correction, getting eye-related issues checked out will keep the rest of your body healthy!


First Opinion can help you get the answers, tests, diagnosis, and early treatments for these eye-related symptoms and more. Chat with a First Opinion doctor today!

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