“Get your eyes checked!”

Prairie Doc Perspective

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If you ever played baseball, you may have been told to “keep your eye on the ball.” When batting, a baseball player is taught to watch the ball the entire time from when it leaves the pitcher’s hand to when, hopefully, their bat smacks the ball for a hit. It may sound simple, but some pitchers can throw fast and sometimes they throw a curveball. Great hitters use their vision and spot the difference, helping them get a hit. Lose focus, and in the blink of an eye the pitch has whipped past them for a strike.

Like keeping your eye on the ball in baseball, I recommend you keep your eye on your eyes. Sure, you may have good vision, but that does not necessarily mean your eyes are in good health. It is important to see an eye doctor for a regular check up, to help spot any eye issues early.

There are several common eye conditions that can be seen early by annual eye exams. Cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are some of the examples. Catching these right away helps prevent or delay vision loss. Early detection allows for easier, more effective, and cost efficient treatments.

Cataracts are from clouding of the lens of the eye that can cause blurring and sometimes eventual blindness. Treatable with surgery, outcomes may be better when diagnosed early in the course.

Macular degeneration is a problem with the retina which can cause blurring and central vision loss. Early diagnosis and treatment helps slow the course of the disease.

Caused by increased eye pressure, glaucoma may lead to vision loss from damage to the nerve in the back of the eye called the optic nerve. Often people have glaucoma without knowing it until their vision slowly deteriorates. Once again, early detection is key for preserving vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication from diabetes that causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina, causing vision loss. If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, please have an annual eye exam and tell your eye doctor so they know to look for associated eye problems.

Just like a baseball player needs to keep an eye on the ball to watch for changes in movement, I encourage you to get your eyes checked to detect changes in your eyes to prevent vision loss. So, the next time you hear a baseball fan yell “Get your eyes checked!” to an umpire, may it be a reminder to schedule your next eye exam.

Andrew Ellsworth, M.D. is part of The Prairie Doc® team of physicians and currently practices family medicine in Brookings, South Dakota. Follow The Prairie Doc® at www.prairiedoc.org and on Facebook and instagram featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc® a medical Q&A show celebrating its 22nd season of health information based on science, built on trust, streaming live on Facebook most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central.

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