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  • Writer's pictureMark Roberts

Oh, Say Can You See?

Do you recognize those words? Likely you remember this phrase as the beginning of the first stanza of our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner." The focus of the song is about being able to have clear vision of an outcome that at once seemed impossible, but then declared triumphant. This song stirs the patriot in all Americans.

On a similar note, how is your vision? Recently I visited my optometrist for the first time in three years. I know. I know. I should have seen him at least once a year. But there was Covid, no insurance, and just life. Like me, you, too, are probably pretty busy most of the time. I usually take very good care of my eyes. I have worn glasses, for over twenty years, but I don't wear contact lenses. My wife, daughter and son all wear both.

I told my eye doctor that I thought my prescription may have changed as I have had a minor issue in being able to clearly see print as well as I did a year or so ago. Here's the news. He confirmed I have the beginning stages of cataracts in one eye, and likely within less than five years I will need corrective surgery.

Ouch! Not what I wanted to hear. But at least he was able to catch it early on and diagnose the problem. Not only that, but I will need to get new glasses soon to replace the pair I have been wearing since 2019 as my prescription has definitely changed. Fortunately, I now have insurance that softens the blow of sticker shock at checkout.

This personal story is a life lesson. Taking care of your eyesight should be a priority to help manage your ability to have good vision. Delaying a vision visit to your optometrist may be based on circumstances that prohibit an annual eye exam, but don't put it off too long. When it comes to scheduling preventive health appointments, eye exams are often overlooked. At best, people usually assume a basic visual screening is enough.

However, seeing a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist for comprehensive exams is important for everyone’s overall health. And, your overall well-being can benefit from “keeping an eye on” the health of your eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) suggests the following frequencies for adult eye exams based on age:

  • 20s and 30s: every 5-10 years

  • 40 to 54: every 2-4 years

  • 55 to 64: every 1-3 years

  • 65+: every 1-2 years

Individuals with the following conditions are exceptions to the prior recommendations:

  • Exhibit serious vision trouble or eye discomfort

  • Wear corrective lenses

  • Have a family history of eye disease

  • Have a chronic disease that increases the risk of eye disease

For children, the AAO recommends:

  • Initial screening between 6 and 12 months of age

  • Routine eye health and vision screenings throughout childhood to help detect any abnormalities as their eyes develop

  • Visual screening and ocular alignment evaluations every 1-2 years for school-aged children

A licensed doctor will use your eye evaluation to indicate your overall health. Close evaluation of the blood vessels in the eye can help discover major health problems, including:

  • Diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is identified by blood vessels in the retina of the eyes leaking blood or yellow fluid.

  • Hypertension. Tears or bends in blood vessels in the eye may identify high blood pressure.

  • High cholesterol. A yellow tint or ring around the cornea may signify high cholesterol.

  • Thyroid disease. Graves Disease, or bulging or protruding eyeballs, is a sign of thyroid problems.

  • Autoimmune disorders. Eye inflammation can be a sign of an autoimmune disorder such as lupus.

  • Cancer. Unusual eye structure can be a sign of ocular melanoma (eye cancer), and close observation of the eyelids can detect basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer).

  • Tumors. Irregular shaped pupils or droopy eyelids could signify a neck tumor or an aneurism.

Regardless of how keen your eyesight is, scheduling regular eye exams according to the AAO’s recommendations is a great way to stay on top of your overall health. If it has been a while since your last eye exam, do yourself a huge healthcare favor and book an appointment at your earliest convenience.

If you don't have vision coverage, I have several options available for you to purchase. Whether you, your family, or your employees as a business owner need a vision plan, I can help. Contact me to learn more or to get a quote. You can also visit this website ( to see options available to you. I look forward to helping your vision needs.

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