FY(eye): The human eye is made up of over 2 million working parts. 

It’s easy to take our eyes for granted. Many people think that as long as you can see fine, everything must be in working order. As with any part of your body, proactive and preventative health measures are important to the long-term health of your eyes.

Go See Your Eye Doctor. It’s recommended that you visit an eye care professional every two years. Even those lucky individuals with perfect vision should have their eyes examined at least once every two years to make sure there aren’t any underlying health issues that may not be obvious to the average person.

Since changes in your vision may occur in a very subtle manner over a long period of time, you might not recognize that your vision has declined or that you’ve developed other eye problems. When left untreated, any change in the condition of your eyes can worsen or cause unnecessary strain on your eyes. Vision can change quickly and unexpectedly as you get older, so individuals over the age of 40 should have their eyes checked even more frequently. People with diabetes should also schedule regular visits to their eye doctor since they’re at increased risk of eye problems.

If you experience any eye discomfort or changes in vision, it’s best to make an appointment to visit your doctor, even if the condition seems mild. It isn’t worth it to risk causing further damage by waiting or assuming that problems will go away by themselves.

Keep an Eye Out for Warning Signs. Here are some signs that you should try and have an eye exam as soon as possible:

  • Frequent eyestrain – If your eyes occasionally get tired, it’s probably not an issue. But frequent eyestrain or extended periods of fatigue may signal a problem with the health of your eyes.
  • Excessive Tears – Believe it or not, overly watery eyes may actually be associated with dry eyes. Your body creates tears to help protect and keep your eyes lubricated, so excessive tears may be in response to an underlying issues associated with dryness in your eye.
  • Regular Headaches – If you suddenly start experiencing headaches on a regular basis, it could be linked to an issue with your eyes or your vision.
  • Squinting – It may take some time to realize that you’re doing it, but squinting is a definite sign that you need to schedule a routine eye exam and get your eyes checked. Look at pictures of yourself, or ask someone else if they ever see you squinting, especially when you’re looking at a screen or trying to read text.
  • Trouble Seeing at Night or Sensitivity to Light – Light sensitivity and “night blindness” are usually related. Both can be caused by a few different conditions such as vitamin deficiency or even a sign of diabetes. Your doctor can give you a specific diagnosis for these light level problems.

The above signs aren’t usually symptoms of emergencies and are often resolved with glasses, contact lenses or eye drops, but you should still try to see your doctor as soon possible. If you experience any of the signs below, you should see your doctor immediately as they might mean something more serious.

  • Spots and Floaters – The sudden appearance of spots and floaters, which may look like tiny shadows, may signal a serious issue such as a detachment of the retina that can cause loss of eyesight.
  • Narrowing of Field of Vision – If you can only see directly in front of you, you may have developed glaucoma. If it isn’t treated, vision loss will continue.
  • Blurred Eyesight and Loss of Bright Colors – If things aren’t as clear or colors don’t look the same way they used to, it may be a sign of cataracts, which can lead to blindness over time unless you undergo surgery.

There are many other signs of both minor and major problems with your eyes, including redness, trouble focusing, red eyes and general eye pain. You should visit your eye care professional as soon as any symptoms appear. It’s a lot better to schedule an appointment for a false alarm than to wait until a particular eye condition becomes more severe and the health of your eyes deteriorates further.

Note: In the case of sudden vision loss, you should immediately contact your eye professional or visit the emergency room.

This resource is only a guide and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or ignore professional medical advice because of something you have read on a website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call a doctor, dial 911 or go directly to a hospital Emergency Room (ER).

References

American Academy of Ophthalmology

Health Guidance

All About Vision

American Academy of Family Physicians

Prevent Blindness America

Web MD