What Your Eyes Can Tell You About Your Overall Health
Eye exams are an important part of an overall wellness plan. Unfortunately, many people put off seeing the eye doctor because they either believe their vision is fine or they do not feel like anything has changed. Often, however, there are subtle changes to your vision that happen over time, and if you are do not go in to see the eye doctor regularly, you may not know that you need to get glasses or a stronger prescription.
Annual eye exams do far more than just tell us the current state of our vision. Your eye doctor is the only medical professional who has a clear view of your blood vessels, arteries, and cranial nerve without cutting you open. This gives them a wide window into your overall health, allowing for early detection of many health issues that, if caught in time, can be effectively treated.
Here are some of the health concerns that are often detected in their early stages by a comprehensive eye exam:
- Eye Disorders: Naturally, the tests your eye doctor performs will screen for eye disorders such as retinal detachments, cataracts, and glaucoma.
- High Cholesterol: White rings around the eyes and yellowish bumps in the eyelids can be signs that your cholesterol is too high.
- High Blood Pressure: Torn or bent blood vessels in the eyes could be a sign of hypertension caused by high blood pressure.
- Diabetes: Approximately 40% of Americans will develop diabetes in their lifetimes. One of the signs of blood sugar buildup is red spots in the eye. Red spots can be an indicator of other conditions as well, such as allergies, pinkeye, or fungal infection.
- Autoimmune Disorders: Inflammation in the eyes can be a sign of an autoimmune disorder such as Lupus.
- Thyroid Problems: Bulging eyes or swollen eyeballs can be signs of a thyroid condition known as Graves Disease.
- Cancer: An eye exam can detect several different types of cancer and tumors. Conditions such as skin cancer, brain tumors, lung cancer, and breast cancer, and many others have been detected because of abnormalities identified by an eye doctor.
How Often Should I have an Eye Exam?
A comprehensive eye exam is at least as valuable as a physical in determining your overall health. There are many adverse health conditions that can be detected early by an eye doctor that, if an exam was put off, could progress to more severe stages. For this reason, it is recommended that individuals see the eye doctor at least every two years, depending on your age and specific health risks.
For children, their first exam should take place at about 6 months of age, their next one at around age 3, and every two years thereafter until they turn 18. Adults age 18-60 should have an eye exam every 2 years unless they have certain risk factors such as previous eye injuries or a family history of eye problems, in which case they should visit the eye doctor annually. If you are over age 60, you should have an eye exam annually.
A Low-Cost Investment in the Health of Your Employees
Vision insurance is a very affordable addition to an employee benefits plan. It can be offered as a company paid or voluntary benefit, with low out-of-pocket costs for employees and a wide network of professionals to choose from. Employers should also educate employees about the importance of utilizing their vision plan as an effective preventative tool. This helps keep your workers healthier, happier, and more productive.