William Shakespeare wrote, “The eyes are the windows to your soul.” It can also be said that the eyes are the windows to your overall health. By examining your eyes, and the condition of blood vessels in your eyes, ophthalmologists — medical doctors who specialize in the care of complex eye disorders — can detect the early signs of dozens of serious medical conditions unrelated to vision.
Your eyes show early indications of several serious health issues:
Once you reach sixty-five, the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests you get an exam every one or two years.
Other conditions that can be detected during a routine eye exam include diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases, sexually transmitted diseases — even Alzheimer’s.
Of course, taking care of your eyesight means also taking care of your general health. Here’s what ophthalmologists suggest:
By examining your eyes and the condition of blood vessels in your eyes, ophthalmologists can detect the early signs of dozens of serious medical conditions unrelated to vision.
- Get routine eye exams. Many eye diseases begin without symptoms, so you don’t want to skip an annual eye exam. Even if your vision seems fine, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends everyone get a comprehensive eye examination by age forty. Once you reach sixty-five, the AAO suggests you get an exam every one or two years.
Worried that you can’t afford an eye exam? Seniors 65 or older may be eligible for an eye exam without any out-of-pocket cost through the AAO’s EyeCare America program which matches volunteer ophthalmologist with patients. Find out if you are eligible by visiting EyeCare America.
- Eat a healthy diet. Studies show foods that are particularly rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids are effective in lowering your risk of certain common eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration, as well as dry eye.
- Make sure you keep moving. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) 30 minutes daily of exercise not only helps to protect your vision, but if you have an eye disease, it may also be helpful in managing it.
- Know your family history around eye problems. Around one million Americans go blind every year. Knowing your family history can be beneficial because many causes of blindness are hereditary including macular degeneration and glaucoma. Make sure you share your family’s health history with your eye doctor.