The eyes may be the window to the soul, but they are also a good snapshot of the body’s overall health and well-being. Many people are surprised to find that a dilating eye exam can help doctors diagnose, prevent and treat conditions that steal our sight as we age. No longer do we have to become blind as we age, but we definitely need regular eye exams to identify the many conditions that can damage our vision and destroy our quality of life. Just one dilating eye exam a year can significantly increase the quality of life for seniors.

One primary reason to have an annual eye exam is glaucoma screening. Glaucoma is sometimes called the sneak thief of sight because it is painless and virtually unnoticed by the person who has it until it is already damaging your vision. Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure in your eye increases, usually due to minor defects in the eyes. That pressure is not normally noticed by the person who has it, but it causes damage to other parts of the eye, eventually leading to decreased peripheral vision or loss of sight altogether. Virtually any eye exam will include a pressure check to test for glaucoma and they are almost always done before a dilating eye exam.

Cataracts

Cataracts are also hard for the average person to self-detect, though they may notice more problems with glare, especially when driving at night, or a reduced vibrancy of color. That’s because cataracts are like a soapy film coating the lens of the eye. They can occur at younger ages due to certain medications or trauma to the eye, but they are most commonly caused by aging.

In a dilating eye exam, your optometrist can get a better look at the lens of the eye and determine when cataract surgery is needed. The treatment of cataracts can improve your quality of life by making it possible to drive at night again and to see things more clearly.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Many people with diabetes don’t know that failure to control their blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the back of the eye. To know how much your diabetes is impacting  Visiclear  your vision, the optometrist uses a dilating eye exam, sometimes combined with other tests, to look at the tiny blood vessels that support the retina and your ability to see. Treating diabetic retinopathy can improve your quality of life by preventing retinal detachments and tears that destroy vision.

Macular Degeneration

The macula is a tiny spot on the retina that is vital to vision, but as we age, many people develop a condition called age-related macular degeneration. Left untreated, macular degeneration can lead to rapid deterioration of eye sight and eventual blindness. A dilating eye exam allows your doctor to assess the condition of the macula and begin treatment if a problem is detected.

The sad reality of most vision impairments is that once the damage is done, it cannot be reversed. These, and other conditions of the eye, often have no symptoms until they have already begun to damage your sight. However, they are treatable, or even preventable, if they are diagnosed early. The best way to do that is an annual dilating eye exam. In some cases, if a condition has started to develop, the doctor may recommend more frequent exams to monitor and treat you eyes. Preserving your vision is one of the best ways to improve your quality of life.