Don’t overlook regular eye checkups – it can pick up early signs of disease and maintain your eye health.
By Cheryl Sim, in consultation with Dr Jamie Ng, Associate Consultant, Ophthalmology
According to Dr Jamie Ng, Associate Consultant, Ophthalmology, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Medical Centre, some irreversible and potentially blinding conditions such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy have no symptoms in the early stages. This makes eye screening the only way to spot these conditions early and slow down or prevent their progression.
“Eye health can also be an indicator of overall health. In some cases, the signs of some diseases are visible in, on, or around the eyes long before symptoms appear,” said Dr Ng.
High levels of cholesterol can cause a corneal arc: whitish, grey or yellowish deposits around the circumference of the cornea. This arc does not usually affect vision, but it indicates an inherited predisposition to high cholesterol and high blood triglycerides. Corneal arcs are also linked to diabetes and high blood pressure.
High cholesterol can also cause the eyes or eyelids to develop plaque-like deposits (xanthelasma). In severe cases, high levels of cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to line the blood vessels in the eye, blocking them or causing a rupture that may cut off blood supply and cause vision loss.
A disease of the eyes called hypertensive retinopathy can signal serious complications associated with dangerously high blood pressure. Hypertensive retinopathy also indicates end-organ damage (such as heart and renal impairment) and may be a risk marker of stroke, congestive heart failure and cardiovascular mortality. This means prompt and accurate diagnosis during an eye screening can prevent unnecessary vision loss and systemic complications.
Given these realities, perhaps the old saying ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul’ has some truth in it. The eye, after all, is truly a window into the body and the only place where a doctor can look at a nerve, artery or vein without any invasive procedures.
Dr Ng reiterated, “Because many eye problems and health conditions are ‘silent’, people should not wait until they experience symptoms to see a doctor. Regular eye screenings, just like health screenings, are important to detect, treat and prevent problems from worsening.
Getting your eyesight checked is not just for those of us who are short or long-sighted. In fact, eye screenings are important to detect common eye problems and other diseases in their early stages. This is especially important for those with:
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The cornea is the transparent layer in front of the eye. The iris is a pigmented membrane with an adjustable circular opening called the pupil that expands and contracts to control the amount of light entering the eye.
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Unlike a vision test which just checks for vision problems, an eye examination assesses the health and function of the eyes. It may include:
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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