Do you see your eye doctor at least once every two years? Or once a year if you have an existing condition? If you answered no to both of these questions then you are unfortunately not alone.
Many Americans skip on their visit to their eye doctor every year for a myriad of reasons from their insurance not coving eye care services to just thinking that eye care is not a priority. But not going to the eye doctor is severely hurting your vision even if you don’t see the effects right away.
Eye Care Misconceptions
People often think that if they can see well and that there isn’t anything obviously wrong with their vision, then there isn’t anything wrong at all. This simply isn’t the case! To think so is actually crazy when you think about it. The eye is so complex that only a doctor could really be able to tell if your vision is healthy or not.
Glaucoma is a famous example of a severe eye condition that has almost no warning signs. The only way to know if you have it is by getting a special eye exam. The only way to do that? See your eye doctor! But you might have guessed that already.
Going to the eye doctor should be like going to your general physician. You go for a yearly checkup, not because there is something necessarily wrong but rather to be certain that there isn’t anything wrong and that there won’t be anything wrong.
The same should be applied to your eye care. You go for an eye exam to be absolutely certain that there isn’t anything to be worried about. If there is, you can be grateful that you caught it and can take the right steps towards healing.
Another misconception about eye care is that you only need it when you’re older and are prone to age-related diseases. If anything, the exact opposite is true. Young people need to take care of their eyes by going to the eye doctor to ensure healthy vision in their old age.
It is a little like moisturizing your skin. You moisturize when you’re young to avoid dreaded wrinkles and lines when you’re older. Well, going to the eye doctor is even easier than moisturizing because you only have to do it once every two years instead of every night before bed.
Taking care of your vision is so important in the long term. Doing so when you’re young can avoid so many issues that arise with old eyes like dealing with diseases like age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, presbyopia, and cataracts.
The thing about age-related diseases is that they may not be curable, but they’re definitely preventable. And even if you find that you have indeed developed age-related macular degeneration or cataracts, all of these diseases can be controlled and slowed if caught early.
Not only will taking care of your eyes while you’re young help spot and treat impending diseases, it will also help your vision last longer. As we age, our vision is one of the first things to go. We use our vision so much and our eyes are so sensitive that it’s no wonder they age twice as fast as we do.
However, with the proper vision care through regular eye doctor visits and comprehensive eye exams there is a good chance that you can preserve your young vision for much longer.
Seeing the eye doctor when you’re young will get you into the good habit of taking care of yourself and not taking your eyes for granted. Our eyes give us so much that the least we can do is have them checked.
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Insurance vs. No Insurance
Another reason many people skip on the eye doctor is because they don’t have the insurance to cover it. But having a regular doctor regardless of this is important. Then you have someone to call in case there is an emergency with your vision. If not, it may be very difficult to get an appointment at a clinic or office where you don’t have an existing file.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 42 percent of people without insurance used eye care services in 2016. 67 percent of people with private health insurance and 55 percent with public health insurance visited their eye doctor this year.
Insurance plays a big factor in whether or not people have regular eye doctors. The good news is that many states are beginning to recognize that eye care is incredibly important for everyone. The steps being taken towards bringing eye care to everyone varies from state to state.
Find out what your state is doing to improve access to affordable eye care for more information.
Finding the Right Doctor
Hopefully by now, if you don’t have one already, you’re ready to find an eye doctor for you. But where to start? You can simply search Google to find a doctor close to home that charges a price you can afford. But you also need to choose: optometrist or ophthalmologist?
An optometrist is someone who has completed a four year college degree. This is the person you’ll most likely see when you get your eyes checked. They can diagnose refractive errors and prescribe corrective eye wear to treat the conditions.
Optometrists can also diagnose certain diseases and condition, and they can also prescribe the proper medication to treat these conditions.
An ophthalmologist on the other hand is the person you’ll likely be referred to by your optometrist. They are medical doctors who specialize in certain eye diseases and have completed four years of college, four years of medical school and a one year internship.
They are qualified to do everything an optometrist can with the added ability to perform certain eye surgeries. You’ll likely only need an ophthalmologist if you have an existing condition that needs special care.
Having a regular doctor that you can communicate vision problems with is just as important as having a general doctor. They have the same duties. Making sure you are healthy until next year’s appointment. Or in two years, if you’re healthy enough.
Don’t wait any longer. Find yourself a great eye doctor today!