Even if you aren’t noticing any problems with your eyes or vision, a regular eye examination is recommended at least every two years for adults between 19 and 64 years old, and yearly for children and those 65 and up. Our eye examinations encompass more than just determining if your eyeglass prescription needs to be updated. We also check the health of your eyes, inside and out, looking for early signs of cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eye and any other eye condition that can potentially affect your vision. We also look for any problems with the alignment and movement of the eyes as well as neurological issues. Our goal is to catch any changes early to minimize the potential effect on your vision, and also provide timely referral, if necessary. If you have risk factors or early signs of progressive eye conditions, we may recommend regular eye examinations or partial examinations more frequently.
Glaucoma is one of the main reasons that we recommend eye exams at least every 2 years in adults. There are many different types of glaucoma, with most causing slow, progressive, irreversible damage to the eyes. Glaucoma can be present for many years, without any symptoms, before there is a significant change noticed in the vision. Regular eye examinations can detect the signs early so that treatment can be implemented to minimize vision loss.
There are several different forms of cataract. Some people are born with them, and some develop them from a trauma to the eye. For most of us, cataracts are an inevitable part of aging, rather than a disease process. The crystalline lens in the eye becomes less transparent as it ages, eventually affecting visual clarity. We monitor the progression of cataracts, refer for surgery at the appropriate time, and follow-up after the surgery.
Diabetes can cause blood vessels in the eyes to bleed or leak, which can be sight-threatening. Changes that are caught early can often be treated successfully, minimizing vision loss. We recommend that people who have their diabetes under good control have their eyes examined every 1 – 2 years. Those with less than optimum glycemic control, or having other risk factors should be seen yearly or more frequently. We prefer to dilate the pupils of our diabetic patients for the eye exam, and include digital imaging of the retina. OCT scans may also be recommended to determine if there is diabetic macular edema in the retina.
We routinely take digital fundus photos of all adults and seniors at their regular examinations, and more frequently if needed. A picture is definitely worth a thousand words when comparing those photos for changes from one examination to the next, or over a period of several years.
Our state-of-the-art OCT (Optical Coherence Tomographer) is a very valuable tool for detecting and diagnosing certain eye conditions earlier than we can with any other method. This instrument is able to "see" into the layers of the retina and optic nerve, using a process that is similar to ultrasound, except that it uses light instead of sound waves to create an image of the living tissue without harming it. It can pick up very early signs of macular degeneration, glaucoma and a type of swelling of the retina caused by diabetes, as well as problems with the cornea. It is also used to monitor the progression and effectiveness of treatment of these conditions.
Our Humphrey Visual Field Analyzer and FDT screener both help to detect early losses in the central and peripheral vision associated with glaucoma and other neurological conditions affecting the eye, as well as vision changes associated with certain medications. Earlier detection can lead to earlier treatment to minimize any effect on the vision, especially in the case of glaucoma.
The Humphrey VFA also provides a test that is required on most Winnipeg Police and RCMP application forms, and some MPI reports or second opinions for drivers. It also provides a test that is required when determining if certain eyelid surgeries are covered by our government health insurance as a necessity or if they are considered cosmetic.
Dry eye may have several causes: age, environment, medications, underlying health problems. Fortunately, the impact of dry eye on comfort and clarity of vision has been recognized, and recent research has developed testing and treatments that can improve the health and comfort of dry eyes. Our dry eye testing helps us to pinpoint the cause of the dryness and recommend the treatment and products that can help alleviate the symptoms.
Children often do not know if their vision is “normal" compared to what others see, and so they may not complain of any issues. Optometrists are able to detect vision deficits requiring corrective lenses without relying on verbal responses from the child. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that children undergo their first eye examination between 6 and 9 months of age. Pre-school age children should have at least one comprehensive eye examination between the ages of 2 and 5, and yearly routine eye exams are recommended during school age years. The detection of visual conditions such as high myopia or hyperopia, strabismus, or congenital cataracts allows for proper interventions and treatment to optimize visual potential.