We take in approximately 80% of the information around us through our vision – this alone is a very good reason to ensure that we take care of our eyes as best as we can and that we do our best to avoid any potential health complications. Doc. MUDr. Petra Svozílková, Ph.D. provides invaluable information on caring for your vision.
What is the difference between an eye exam by an eye doctor in a specialized practice and measurements carried out by an optician? Why are measurements by opticians insufficient for patients?
To save money or for reasons associated with time, many people opt for services offered by opticians who claim to provide “eye examinations”. Patients often feel that this covers the preventive part of an examination. However, the quality of these examinations varies based on the instruments the opticians use and depending on whether it is carried out by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.
In the vast majority of cases, the examination only entails assessing the refraction to determine the best diopter-related visual aids. This however cannot match a complex eye exam which examines in detail the anterior segment and fundus of the eye, measures intraocular pressure and other similar procedures. In any case, by law, opticians are not allowed to apply diagnostic drops to dilate the pupils as they are not considered a medical facility. These drops are however required to carry out detailed examinations of the eye interior (fundus) and the peripheral retina. This applies even in cases when an eye doctor carries out an examination at the premises of an optician. It can therefore be said with certainty that an examination at an optician cannot replace an examination carried out at an ophthalmologist practice.
Can eye care be neglected?
There are various scenarios. Eye care can be neglected by parents when they underestimate the indicators that should require eye examinations. Adults treated for high blood pressure, diabetes or other diseases should undergo eye exams at least 1x each year. Unless the underlying disease is not addressed adequately by appropriate treatment, it is recommended to increase their frequency. Some of these diseases can manifest themselves through eye problems that can affect visual acuity. If a patient is not monitored frequently by an ophthalmologist and accompanying changes are not detected in time, it may not always be possible to restore the original level of vision.
After the age of 40, all patients without exception should undergo a preventive eye examinations to help in diagnosing glaucoma. The disease is often treacherous and insidious, frequently accompanied by no apparent complications. However, the nerve fibers of the optic nerve eventually start dying off and the process is irreversible – manifested by chronic progressive neuropathy of the optic nerve. Subjective symptoms are often experienced by patients and advanced stages of the disease. Glaucoma is a multifactorial disease but one of the main risk factors leading to its formation lies in increases in intraocular pressure. If treatment is not administered in time, the disease progresses and the patients experience a life-long degradation of their visual acuity accompanied by blind spots in the visual field. Long-term cases that are not treated appropriately can result in eventual blindness.
What endangers our vision the most?
Eye diseases that are diagnosed late are the primary danger. Many eye diseases can be improved or stabilized by timely application of treatment.
Is there any particular form of prevention with regards to eye care that will help avoid future problems?
The most effective prevention lies in preventive eye examinations where the ophthalmologist, based on actual findings, presents the patient with concrete recommendations. People should of course use glasses with UV filter protection while out in the sun as well as consume dietary supplements that are known to provide nutrition to the retina etc.
People who wear contact lenses should not forget about proper lens care, proper application times and regular visits to the eye doctor to examine the anterior segment, detecting any complications in time. Individuals who spend most of their time looking at a monitor often suffer from the dry eye syndrome. This occurs as a result of unconscious and insufficient eye blinking leading to the eye film drying up quicker. It is therefore recommended to use artificial tears without preservatives while working with a computer, especially when the patient is experiencing a burning eye sensation or general discomfort. In addition to these, it is necessary to use the correct visual diopter aid while working with a computer.
What eye injuries do you most commonly encounter at your practice?
Common eye injuries include eye erosion (abrasion), foreign bodies in the conjunctiva or cornea which are often introduced into the eye when for example working with metals or they can be organic in nature (parts of plants etc.). When there is no penetration, the problem can be addressed at a visit to the eye doctor’s practice. However, when the injury involves penetration or perforation of the eye, a surgical procedure is a must. Further, we come into contact with blunt force injuries to the eye (contusion), caused for example by squash balls, hockey pucks or a fight (fists). Sometimes, these injuries also accompany fractures of the orbital floor. Serious cases also include eye burn injuries caused by acid or lye.
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