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Ask the Expert: Why are routine eye exams important?

Answer provided by Dr. Andrea Joplin M.D., ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, St. Cloud

Question: If I can see well and my eyes feel good why should I get my eyes checked? Early detection and diagnosis of eye disease is important to avoid loss of vision. The incidence of eye problems increases as we age.

At a routine eye exam, we check vision and for any eyeglasses prescription. We look for any other reasons your vision may not be 20/20 such as cataract or retinal disease. We check for glaucoma by checking the eye pressure and by looking at your optic nerve for any damage from glaucoma. People can develop glaucoma and even lose a significant portion of their vision from glaucoma without realizing it until the disease has progressed. Once vision is lost from glaucoma, it cannot be reversed.

We look for macular degeneration or any other eye diseases so that you can be aware of any needed treatments. You probably wouldn’t notice changes early on from dry macular degeneration. If we find changes from dry macular degeneration we have you monitor your vision with a special grid to monitor for wet macular degeneration.

Routine eye exams are important for your vision and can tell a lot about your overall health. File photo

We review any medications you are on. Certain medications can cause eye disease such as dry eyes, cataract, glaucoma or retinal problems. We will let you know what to watch for in the future. We will ask about your family history of eye disease such as macular degeneration or glaucoma. We will discuss risk factors for any diseases that you have concerns about or that you may be at risk for. For example, a diet rich in green leafy vegetables and avoidance of cigarette smoke is recommended for those at risk for macular degeneration.

Any other diseases you may have will be considered as they affect the eyes. When we look at the retina, we can see changes from diabetes and high blood pressure. It is recommended that those with diabetes get an eye exam at least once a year to check for changes in the retina blood vessels that may show that the disease is advancing. We communicate this information to your primary care provider. This information helps give them information about your overall progression of diabetes.

Prevention of eye disease is also something we may discuss. Good sun protection with polarized sunglasses and hats with wide brims are especially important for those with a history of skin cancer. Growths on the eye can also be avoided with good sun protection.

Anytime you have any sudden changes in your vision you should let your eye doctor know. Eye pain, redness, decreased vision, dark curtains over your vision or flashes and floaters are symptoms that your should let us know about and not let go for days.

The eye is an extension of the brain, and studies are being done that may allow us to help determine risk factors for brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The behavior of the eyes can often signal brain disease. The future is promising for your eye exam to tell us even more about your health.

Find Out More

Dr. Andrea Joplin and Dr. Mitchell Gossman, ophthalmologists at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, are taking appointments for eye exams. Eye Associates of Central Minnesota is located at 628 Roosevelt Road, Suite 101, in St. Cloud. To make an appointment or to learn more, call 320-774-3789 or email

“Ask the Expert” is sponsored content (paid advertising) provided by Eye Associates of Central Minnesota.To learn how your business can promote its products and services like this, contact Sr. Perspective.

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