By Dr. Zack Steele, Trussville Vision Care
I had a harsh reminder recently about why getting a yearly eye and health exam is an important thing to do, so I thought I’d pass it on to you.
We had a patient recently who came into the office thinking that he simply needed his glasses updated. His vision had gotten blurry and he was having headaches.
At first, it sounded based on his history that he might be correct. He hadn’t had an eye exam in three years. He is 41 years old, which is the age that things begin to go haywire with your vision. I figured going in that this would be a simple update to glasses.
But as we got further into the exam it became obvious that this was not going to be a simple visit to the optometrist. My patient had swollen optic nerves, also called papilledema. Swollen optic nerves are a sign of increased pressure in the brain.
Very few things can cause swelling in both optic nerves. In this case, it was a lemon sized tumor in the brain called a meningioma. Fortunately these are usually benign. A CAT scan of the brain confirmed my worries and a consult with a neuro-surgeon and brain surgery followed. Hopefully my patient will make a meaningful recovery. But it will be a long way back for him. He’s been in my thoughts and prayers ever since.
Fortunately, most eye exams do not turn out this way. 95 percent turn out to be normal.
The truth is, everyone needs an eye exam, healthy or not at least every other year, not just to maintain healthy eyes, but healthy lives. I sure you have heard about all of the potential health problems we can find just by looking at your eyes. Things like high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, even rosacia can be first noticed by eye doctors. All of these potential problems occur every day, even people who are “seeing just fine”.
I guess what I am trying to say is consider having a yearly eye exam. It likely won’t be bad news but it never hurts to make sure that all is well in your eyes and your body.