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Your eye exam: no excuses, get it done already!

I try to encourage people to come in for preventative eye care yearly, but there are a few misconceptions that get in the way of my advice and keep patients from getting examined. I’d like to take a moment to expose these myths and address them so I can get more patients to be proactive about protecting their eyes.

  • “I see fine, so my eyes must be healthy.” This couldn’t be a more false (and dangerous) assumption. Many diseases do not have noticeable symptoms until they’ve reached a severe state and/or caused permanent vision loss. Should you wait for a heart attack to get your blood pressure checked? Of course not. Similarly, should you wait for irreversible vision loss before you get your eye health checked? Even if you have good vision and no need for prescription glasses, you could still have eye disease.
  • “I don’t want to wear glasses.” Even if it’s discovered that a glasses prescription would help you see more clearly, you still have the right to refuse correction (assuming you’ve passed your driver’s test) and can still have a thorough eye health examination. My job (just like any eye care provider) is to ensure you have a lifetime of good vision by detecting eye diseases and problems, and recommending possible treatments and solutions.

You should be able to discuss honestly and openly your concerns and preferences for your treatment plan with your doctor. It’s logical to think that everyone should have the clearest vision possible, particularly since we all share the same roads and highways. If you disagree, then it’s likely that you have a personal or emotional reason (such as a dislike for how you might look in glasses, or a fear of becoming dependent on glasses) and you should ask your doctor to consider other options for vision correction.

In any event, don’t let a dislike for glasses (or just plain stubbornness or ignorance) prevent you from getting checked for eye disease. Knowing more about your vision and eye health is never a bad thing, even if you choose not to proceed with any recommended treatment.

  • “My child never complains, so their eyes must be fine.” I also hear the alternative to this: “My child doesn’t have any trouble seeing the TV or baseball,” etc. Over 80 percent of learning is done through visual cues, and eye alignment, eye teaming skills and other subtle eye coordination problems are crucial in early learning and development. Unfortunately, most vision screenings (whether through a school or at a pediatrician’s office) only check distance vision, and do not evaluate near vision, eye coordination/alignment or eye health.

Please do not assume your child has perfect vision unless it’s confirmed by an eye care specialist. Regular examination and preventative care is just as important for eyes as it is for overall health. Vaccinations help prevent childhood diseases, and early eye exams help prevent learning problems and difficulties in school. Get your child (and yourself) checked out today!