Whether it’s putting too much faith into self-diagnosis with information from “Dr. Internet,” or just chalking up your symptoms to being something less than they actually are, marking out a slot in your busy schedule to visit your optometrist when something seems off is crucial to ensure your eyes remain healthy. Remember, you only get one set.
As a general rule of thumb, everyone should receive an eye exam once a year. But if it’s been a while since you’re last one, here are a few of the most common signs that indicate a quick visit to the doctor is in order:
Headaches & Migraines
Headaches and migraines aren’t always caused by issues with the eyes, but it’s not uncommon for your optometrist to pinpoint the origins of these headaches before a primary care physician would. Our world is constantly becoming more digitized, and staring at a computer screen or cell phone for long periods of time can cause immense strain on your eyes that lead to head pain.
Whether it’s fitting you with special frames or contact lenses that ease the harsh light emanating from your tech screens or walking through a scheduled plan to help give your eyes a break during your workday, our eye doctors can help alleviate headaches and migraines rooted in eye strain.
Floaters & Bright Flashes of Light
It’s common for most people to have a few floaters (specks of discrepancy in their vision) here and there, especially as a person ages and the once jelly-like substance (vitreous) in the eye becomes more watery. With age tiny, fibers within the vitreous tend to clump together and cast miniature shadows on your retina; small, squiggly pieces of “dust” that you can sometimes see when looking up toward the sky or staring at a white wall. Having a few floaters is normal, but if these floaters all of the sudden appear in abundance and are accompanied by flashing lights or a dark spot in your peripheral vision, it could indicate that you have a detached retina. If you think this has happened to you, contact one of our eye doctors immediately.
Like many other infections, sometimes eye infections can clear up on their own, but that’s a risk you shouldn’t be willing to take. Caused by bacterial, fungal, or viral agents, these infections can sometimes pose a serious threat to the health of your eyes and even those around you.
Common eye infections such as pink-eye and blepharitis are easily spread and highly contagious. In extremely rare incidences, one can contract trachoma: a highly dangerous infection that can lead to blindness. Redness, pain, and discharge from the eye are notable symptoms of infection. If you have any of these, don’t hesitate to visit one of the optometrists here at Howerton Eye as soon as you can.
If you’re constantly squinting to read an article with fine print or a road sign as you drive by it, then it might be an indication that you need an eye exam; possibly a brand new pair of glasses! When we squint, we are making a conscious effort to change the shape of our eyes (only allowing a certain amount of light to enter the pupil), thus making it easier to focus on the subject in front of us. While it may be a temporary fix, squinting forever is not a full-proof solution to the problem.
Eye irritability and pain are nothing to dismiss. While sometimes eye pain can be the result of a common condition like dry eye, other times it is an indication of a more severe condition such as glaucoma, a scratched cornea, or even cancer. You’ll only know if you see an eye doctor and find out for sure.
Diabetes & Retinopathy
If you have diabetes, you most likely know that blood sugar spikes can cause the lenses of the eyes to swell, which can lead to blurred vision and possibly retinopathy: a disease of the retina which disrupts proper function and can lead to loss of sight. If you have family members that have Type 1 diabetes, your risk of developing the same disease is 10 to 20 times higher than the rest of the population. Even if you aren’t feeling any negative effects yet, it’s important to let your optometrist know about your relative’s condition, as your eye doctor can recognize some of the symptoms early on with a thorough eye exam. Being proactive about the health of your eyes is pivotal to their function and longevity.
Safeguarding Your Sight for the Future
Putting all of your faith into self-diagnosis and the World Wide Web isn’t always advisable. It’s important to visit an optometrist for eye exams on a yearly basis, and if you are experiencing any of these telltale signs of eye issues, even sooner. Making the time to visit an eye doctor at Howerton Eye is beneficial for both the quality of your eyes now, and their continuing health in the future. So schedule your appointment today!