Just because you have 20/20 vision doesn’t mean you should skip a visit to the eye doctor. “Checking your eyes annually is not just about your vision; it’s about your overall health,” says Marc Weinstein, optometrist and co-founder of 39DollarGlasses.com. As cheesy as it sounds, eyes are not only your windows to the world, but eyes are the windows into your body. So make sure to check in with your optometrist once a year. Here’s why:
Doctors can detect early signs of serious diseases in the back of the eye.
Evidence of high blood pressure and diabetes can both show up when eyes are dilated, way before you start to have significant symptoms, says Weinstein. And because the back of the eye is the optic nerve, which is an extension of the neurological system, some neurological diseases (like optic neuritis, idiopathic intracranial hypertension, and even aneurysms) can show up, too.
If you’ve had corrective eye surgery, you’re at a higher risk for retinal detachment.
Once your eyes are fixed, getting an eye exam is probably no longer at the top of your priority list. But the chances of you getting retinal detachment increases after surgery, and you want to get a diagnosis as early as possible to save your vision. You also have a much higher risk for developing myopia (nearsightedness) earlier than people without any eye issues.
Your vision might not be as good as you think.
Never needed glasses? That could change over time and it’s important you find out when. “If you aren’t seeing well, you’re not performing daily tasks in an optimal way,” says Weinstein. This means your driving, reading, and computer use could suffer, and even become dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adult drivers visit the eye doctor once a year to lower the number of preventable car accidents.
Some eye conditions are irreversible if caught too late.
“A lot of eye conditions can be treated, but if you wait too long it’s much more difficult to reverse the damage,” explains Weinstein. Since there are no symptoms in the early stages, glaucoma is especially hard to catch. However, if you have your eye pressure checked once a year, you can detect it early, before it leads to serious side effects such as blindness. Cataracts is another eye disease that can be detected early during exams. “An annual eye exam is really important for someone who cares about their health — both the visual part and the medical part,” says Weinstein.