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Eye Myths Debunked

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I only need to see the Optometrist if something is wrong with my vision.
FALSE. Although blurry vision prompts many people to seek a doctor of optometry, there are many other reasons one should get an annual or at lease bi-annual eye exam. Subtle visual changes can occur over time, and if it’s only in one eye, our other eye will compensate to mask the issue in the problem eye.
An eye exam is more than just for glasses. Your doctor of optometry will be evaluating the health of your eye on an annual or bi-annual basis. Glaucoma is an eye disease that starts to take away your peripheral (side) vision first, and works its way in until it affects your central vision. Glaucoma has been nicknamed “the silent thief” because there are most often very little or no visual symptoms of the disease until it has become very advanced. With glaucoma, there is no cure. There is only a way to manage the disease so it doesn’t rob you of more of your vision. There are many other eye diseases that one should be aware of and be monitored for. Many start as nothing but can turn into something far scarier. For example, a choroidal nevi, or “freckle in the eye” can start off as benign but can turn into a melanoma or cancerous tumor. Just as we should be watching out for changes in freckles on our skin, your doctor of optometry will monitor the freckles in your eyes and respond if they turn into cancer.
I’m young, and I have no troubles seeing. Glaucoma and macular degeneration are diseases my grandparents get, not me.
FALSE. Glaucoma can affect people of any age. Although it is more typical in the elderly population, a young person can develop it too. Along with glaucoma, there are many other eye and full body conditions that your Doctor of Optometry will monitor you for. Through an eye exam, many vascular diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and many neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), ocular or cerebral strokes, and brain tumors can be detected.
If you have any family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration or MS you should have your eyes examined minimally bi-annually regardless of how well you feel you see.
I’ll just wear my contacts until I start to feel them or they start to hurt. They don’t bother me that way so it’s fine.
FALSE. Many people abuse their contacts. Abusing one’s contacts includes: wearing them for longer than prescribed, sleeping in them unless prescribed that way, and not changing your cleaning solution every night. Contact lenses are classified by the FDA as a class II medical device. That is why you need a prescription to get them. If you were prescribed a blood pressure medication to take once a day, would you only take it when you felt your blood pressure was high, or would you take it as prescribed? If you had a significant burn on your arm, and your doctor told you to change the bandage once a day, would you only change it when it started to hurt? No. You would follow your doctor’s directions. Do the same for your eye doctor.
Contacts are prescribed as they are for a reason. Your doctor of optometry is looking out for your eye health and wants you to be able to continue to you’re your contacts. Many patients of mine have abused their contacts over years past and have eventually developed an allergy or intolerance to them. They are no longer able to wear contacts because they have abused them so much over the years. Take care of yourself, and your eyes. Wear contacts as directed.

Written by
Dr. Wes McCann

Dr. McCann earned his two Bachelor of Science degrees (both with honours) at Western University in London, Ontario, before going on to earn his Bachelor of Vision Science, accelerated MBA, and Doctor of Optometry degrees at the Nova Southeastern University (NSU) of Optometry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Dr. Wes McCann
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