Let me tell you a story about a patient of mine, Greg. I first met Greg when he came in to see me as an emergency one evening. He was referred by an optometrist who saw him earlier that day. Greg had woken up with loss of vision in one eye and could barely see shadows. Basically, he had woken up blind.
It turned out that Greg had a stroke in his eye, known as a central retinal artery occlusion. (Don’t worry- this is not a common condition!) Though an emergency treatment is available for this kind of eye stroke, it needs to be given within 12 hours of symptoms. Unfortunately, Greg was just outside of the treatment window and didn’t qualify for this vision-saving treatment. The reason I am writing about Greg is not because anyone was at fault for the delay in his care. I am sharing his story because people should be aware that time is of the utmost essence with certain eye issues. If Greg had gone to see an ophthalmologist first instead of an optometrist, he may have had a fighting chance of regaining vision in his blind eye.
Though Greg is an extreme case of vision loss, there are many other conditions which can be diagnosed through a complete eye exam. Many of these conditions initially may have no symptoms, but if left untreated, can rob people of their eyesight permanently or cause other major health-related issues.
Over the years, I have been able to diagnose countless patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, macular degeneration, thyroid abnormalities, clotting disorders, Lyme disease, strokes, and even brain tumors, simply through a detailed ophthalmologic examination. Most of these patients had no warning symptoms that there was even a problem.
Your sight depends on seeing the right eye care provider at the right time. When it’s time to get your eyes checked, make sure you are seeing the right eye care professional for your needs.
To learn more about the different types of eye care providers, read my next blog entitled:
Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, Optician- What’s the Difference?