Eye check-ups are important

Last Updated 26 October 2020, 20:46 IST

Good vision is a key factor for our overall health, safety, and quality of life. Though the eyes are one of the most important organs of sense in our body, people often neglect to get their eye tested regularly, unless they have some problem with their vision. Vision problems such as cataract, refractive errors, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and retinopathy can impact people of all age groups. Infants, school-going children, women, the elderly, people with disabilities or a family history of visual impairment, and those with chronic lifestyle disorders such as diabetes are especially vulnerable. According to data from IAPB (The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness), early detection of vision problems can prevent more than 75% of visual impairment.

An annual eye health check-up is just as important as an annual body health check-up.

Vision impairment or vision loss can affect all aspects of one’s life and well-being such as performing activities at home and school, work opportunities and interacting with family and the community. A comprehensive eye examination can help with early detection of potential eyesight problems, which could lead to vision loss and blindness if left untreated. Data from “Avoidable Blindness India”, a study group, indicates that about 88.2% of blindness in India is avoidable.

There are various benefits to a comprehensive eye exam.

Routine eye examinations are very essential for children at six months of age, three years of age, and five years of age to detect any potential vision abnormalities, which can be corrected in the early stage, while the child's vision system is still developing. For people over the age of 40, dilated eye exams every couple of years can help detect diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and AMD in their early stages. An annual, dilated eye exam is essential for senior citizens who are at increased risk of developing degenerative age-related eye problems that cause slow but permanent damage without any noticeable symptoms.

Eye health during the pandemic

Eye health has taken a backseat during the coronavirus pandemic, and this could lead to permanent vision loss for those with chronic conditions such as diabetes or glaucoma. Regular follow-up visits are very important, even during this time of Covid-19, in order to monitor vision changes and ensure that any complications can be treated in the early stages to prevent vision loss. It is safe to get an eye exam or surgery done at this time as hospitals are following necessary Covid-19 safety measures such as thermal screening, maintain social distancing of six feet, prior appointment system, only one attender per patient, use of masks and sanitizers, regular disinfection of waiting areas, testing equipment, and the OT.

Prioritize the health of your eyes to prevent vision impairment and blindness

Yearly check-ups by an ophthalmologist is a small investment to ensure the long term health of your eyes, and those of your family members. Timely screening can help diagnose a vision problem early and you can get treatment at the right time to avoid vision loss at a later stage. So do not neglect your annual eye check-up which can help you reduce the chance of developing serious eye problems, and keep your eyes and vision healthy in the years to come.

(The author is the Chairman of a Bengaluru-based eye hospital)

(Published 26 October 2020, 19:30 IST)

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