Blog: What an Eye Test Can Reveal About Your Health (5/5/21)

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An eye test can determine if you’re near or far-sighted and whether you need glasses but it can also uncover other health problems. New technology makes it possible for optometrists to look at your retina and macular, which can be quite revealing.

Nearsightedness and far-sightedness

By studying the 3D image of the eye, an optometrist can immediately see that the lens is either too concave or too convex. Light is refracted by the cornea and the lens and if it converges precisely on the retina, an object is in sharp focus. If it falls in front or behind the retina, the object is blurred.

If the lens is concave, it focuses the light behind the retina, causing someone to see objects at a distance as blurry and this is diagnosed as farsightedness. If the lens is too convex, and the light falls sort of the retina, distant objects might be in focus but when trying to read, everything may be blurry. This is diagnosed as nearsightedness.

Having an eye test

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Part of the eye test involves blowing air onto each eye to measure intraocular pressure. If the pressure within your eyeball is too high, it can cause damage to the optic nerve and eventually result in vision loss.

Other conditions an eye test can detect

An optometrist can determine whether you suffer from any of the following defects or conditions and refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) if necessary.

Cataracts: If colors seem less bright and sharp, it may be an indication that you are developing cataracts. Cataracts are cloudy patches in the lens that affect vision and may need surgery.

Glaucoma: This occurs when fluid can’t drain normally and causes pressure to build up in the eye. The pressure causes damage to the blood vessels and the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries images to the brain, so it is important to detect this condition early or it can result in blindness.

Macular degeneration: This eye condition affects the macula, which is the central area of the retina. Damage to the macular distorts central vision and if you have this condition, you may find the center of your view seems blurry, distorted, or dark.

A simple test for macular degeneration involves looking at a grid of parallel lines. If they are distorted or wavy in the middle, it may be a sign of macular degeneration. Timely diagnosis is important, as treatment may delay the progression of the disease.

High blood pressure: If your blood pressure is consistently elevated, it creates consistent high pressure in the blood vessels, even in those in the eye. The optometrist may see that the blood vessels appear swollen and dark.

High blood pressure is one of the main causes of white cotton-like spots on the retina. The pressure in the blood vessels can eventually cause a hemorrhage in the eye that damages nerve cells. Bringing blood pressure under control can prevent damage to the eye.

Diabetes: When diabetes isn’t well controlled, it can lead to the formation of many small blood vessels in the retina. Hemorrhages can cause damage to the eyes, known as diabetic retinopathy, which eventually leads to blindness.

High cholesterol: High cholesterol levels can lead to a yellow coloring in the eye. In serious cases, it can lead to an aneurysm in the retina, which may rupture.

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Elena Johaness

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