How often have you put off visiting your doctor, even when friends or family insist that you should see them? Chances are that it’s happened at least a couple of times. We’re all guilty of ignoring a symptom or two so that we don’t have to miss a day at work or a special night out. However, while some health issues will heal up just fine without a medical intervention, there are still a range of other symptoms that should never be ignored. This is particularly true when it comes to our eyes, as - depending on the problem - we can find ourselves at risk of losing our vision when we ignore symptoms.
To ensure that your vision is kept as healthy as possible, it’s important to visit your eye doctor at least once a year for an annual eye exam. However, if any of these symptoms ever develop between your annuals, you should call your doctor immediately to schedule an appointment sooner rather than later:
- Red, itchy, and watery eyes. While these symptoms sound a lot like seasonal allergies, they can also be a sign of conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. In addition to being uncomfortable, conjunctivitis is highly contagious. So, if at any time you think you may have caught a strain of pink eye, it’s important that you avoid contact with others, stop using your eye makeup (as this could house the virus and cause it to re-infect you after you receive treatment), stop wearing your contact lenses, and see your eye doctor right away so that you can undergo treatment ASAP.
- Changes in vision. While some vision changes naturally happen over time, any sudden change in vision needs to be reported to an eye doctor immediately. A sudden change in vision can be an indicator of many issues, such as developing cataracts or a detaching retina. Depending on the issue causing the changes, a timely appointment may be the only way to ensure that you’ll keep your sight. Examples of these types of symptoms that should be reported immediately include: sudden blurry vision; double vision; loss of vision; the appearance of shadows or dark spots in your line of sight; and the appearance of objects (such as floaters) or lights in your field of vision.
- Pain: Pain in the eye should never be ignored. If the pain is due to a recent injury or traumatic event, you'll need to undergo an exam to determine whether or not that accident caused any damage to the internal workings of your eye. If the pain occurs seemingly out of nowhere, on the other hand, it may be due to an illness such as glaucoma, or due to a buildup of pressure within the eye. No matter what the reasons behind the pain may be, an exam will be necessary to ensure that your doctors diagnose the problem and take steps to protect your vision from any damage the source of the pain may be causing.
- Dry eyes: If you experience a chronic sensation of dryness or grittiness in your eyes, it’s important to visit with an eye doctor to determine what may be causing these symptoms. Chronic dry eye can affect the overall health of your eye, as it prevents the moisturizing tears that the eye needs to stay healthy from spreading across your eye. Without treatment dry eye can lead to inflammation, blurred vision, and even blindness.
These four types of symptoms can all be signs that a serious issue may be developing within your eyes. While in some cases the problem is minor and is easily addressed, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your vision health. It’s also important to remember that some issues develop with no symptoms at all - so even if you are currently symptom free, if you are due for an annual exam, please give us a call to schedule one soon!