A comprehensive eye exam can do more than test your vision - it could help save your life

During Vision Health Month, optometrists will educate Canadians about the serious health conditions that can be detected through comprehensive eye examinations.

OTTAWA, May 2, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- May is Vision Health Month, and doctors of optometry are urging Canadians to make eye exams part of their preventative healthcare routines.

"Comprehensive eye exams can serve as early detectors for a number of potentially serious health conditions, ranging from diabetes and high blood pressure to certain forms of cancer," says Dr. Barry Thienes, President of the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

Studies show that among Canadians who don't have regular eye exams, more than half chose to skip a visit with their optometrist because they believed they had good vision. This is despite the fact that even with good vision, eye exams can help detect eye diseases and underlying conditions that may show signs in the eyes including tumours, aneurysms, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, sickle cell disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and other neurological or brain disorders.

"A comprehensive eye exam does much more than test your vision, it is an important part of maintaining your overall health," says Dr. Thienes.
Comprehensive eye exams provide optometrists a close-up look at your blood vessels, your optic nerves, and many other complex eye structures, all of which may contain clues to conditions that could pose a serious risk to your health.

"Brain tumours, for example, can cause loss of peripheral vision or can damage the nerves that control eye muscle function, resulting in symptoms such as abnormal eye movements or double vision," says Dr. Thienes. "During an exam, your doctor of optometry would examine the optic nerves, and test peripheral vision and eye muscle function, which can often be the first sign of a brain tumour."

The exams conducted by a doctor of optometry are much more than a sight test or screening test, which only measure how well you see. A comprehensive eye exam looks at the overall health of your visual system, and helps to identify underlying health conditions that can show early signs in the eyes.

"Think of it as a physical for your eyes," says Dr. Thienes. "Through a series of tests and procedures, optometrists can help detect conditions before other physical effects are noticed, allowing them to work closely with other primary health care providers to improve patient outcomes."

Given the potential of an eye exam to protect, not just your vision, but your overall health, routine exams are recommended for people of all ages. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommend adults have an eye exam every two years, and annually for those over 65. Children should have their first exam between six and nine months, their second eye exam between the ages of two and five, and annually after starting school.

About Doctors of Optometry Canada
Doctors of optometry are health care specialists trained to diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases and disorders affecting the eyes, and also assist in identifying general health conditions that are often first detected through an eye exam. Doctor of optometry-recommended treatments for patients can include eyeglasses, contact lenses, special low vision aids, eye coordination exercises, drug therapies, or referral to appropriate specialists or other healthcare professionals for advanced medical, surgical, or laser treatments. For more information or to find a doctor, visit opto.ca
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