When Should You Visit an Eye Doctor?
Times whereby you should consider visiting an eye doctor:
- Routine eye exam: It is important to have routine eye checks as we age even if there is no specific eye or vision issue especially if you are 45 years old and above.
- Vision changes: If there are any changes in vision such as blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, sudden loss of vision or seeing double, it is advisable to have an eye check done as these changes may indicate underlying eye conditions that require prompt treatment.
- Eye discomfort or pain: If you experience persistent eye discomfort, pain, redness, these may be signs of an eye infection, inflammation or other eye conditions which need to be looked at.
- Eye conditions or diseases: If you have been diagnosed with eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy , regular follow-up visits with an eye doctor is imperative to monitor the condition to prevent progression.
- Family history of eye diseases: If there is any family history of eye diseases, it may be prudent to see an eye doctor to exclude yourself of any potential eye diseases.
Routine eye check
A routine eye check can be done pretty comprehensively. Various eye tests are performed by an optometrist and the eye doctor will thereafter assess the eye physically to provide a diagnosis. Below are some of the eye tests performed:
Visual acuity test
Measures how well you see at 6 metres away from an eye chart. A result of 6/6 means you are able to see objects clearly at 6 metres away with any glasses or contact lenses.
Eyedrops will be instilled to enlarge the pupils so the eye doctor can fully check the health of the retina and optic nerve.
Fluorescein eye stain
An orange dye (fluorescein) and a blue light are used to detect foreign bodies in the eye and damage to the cornea if any.
An image is taken of the back of your eye (retina). This allows the eye doctor to examine blood vessels, retina and optic nerve closely.
The eye doctor will put on the binocular indirect ophthalmoscope on his head to inspect the fundus or back of the eye. This optical instrument produces images at between 2x and 5x magnification.
Child’s eye exam
For children, the following eye tests can be performed in addition to the above mentioned tests:
- Colour vision tests
- Ocular motility
- Eye alignment
Some common causes of vision changes include:
Myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia can cause blurry vision and those with them will find it hard to focus on words or objects.
Eye infection or injury:
Conjunctivitis or injuries to the eye may lead to temporary changes in vision and they need to be treated to restore vision.
Systemic health conditions:
Certain health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure can affect blood vessels in the eye and cause vision changes.
Some common causes of eye discomfort include:
- Dry eye occurs when there is insufficient tear production which will make the eyes feel gritty or experience a burning sensation. The use of lubricating eyedrops and ointment is the main treatment for dry eye. Punctal plugs can be considered for more severe dry eye.
- Allergic reactions to substances like dust, pet fur or pollen can cause redness, itching or discomfort in the eyes.
- Tears flow through a small opening at the corners of the eye known as tear ducts. Should the ducts be blocked, tears will not be able to flow smoothly and this will cause eye discomfort and pain.
- Contact lenses that are not cleaned or maintained properly may contain debris that irritates the eye and leads to an eye infection.
- Foreign body sensation can be experienced if eyelashes grow inwards causing a corneal abrasion or if dust particles get into the eye.
Eye injuries include bruises, punctures and scratches due to accidents, chemical exposure or foreign objects in the eye.
- Bleeding in the eye: A subconjunctival haemorrhage takes place when the blood vessel in the front part of the eye bursts due to extreme rubbing of the eyes or coughing and sneezing too hard.
- Corneal abrasion: Foreign objects or fingernails may scratch the cornea. Sometimes, extreme dry eye may also cause corneal abrasion whereby the eye will be watery, in pain and sensitive to light.
- Orbital fractures: Trauma or blunt force to the surrounding bones of the eye may cause fractures. In an orbital blowout fracture, bones inside the eye socket shatter, and the muscle supporting the eyes can be stretched, torn or trapped. Surgery is required to repair the fracture.