I want to share with all of you the following patient encounter I had this week, which underscores the importance of annual eye exams. Eye exams are not only a means to obtain glasses or contact lenses. They are also not only for those who wear glasses and contacts, but rather everyone should have their eye health evaluated every 1-2 years. Some more often.
The most important element of an eye exam is something called ophthalmoscopy, which is an intricate skill using a microscope, high powered lenses, and light to view the inner layer of the eye called the retina. The retina is a paper-thin layer of cells that’s responsible for processing vision. Damage to the retina can occur from disease or trauma, and often spontaneously. Luckily, early detection with ophthalmoscopy during a routine eye exam can allow a doctor to detect early signs of an impending problem, which can then be treated.
And that’s exactly what happened with my patient… He was a regular, young, healthy 28-year-old guy who came to the office for a routine eye exam and a contact lens evaluation. In his mind, he came for contacts and didn’t fully understand the concept of evaluating the health of his eyes. After explaining the necessity to dilate his eyes and check them, he agreed and ophthalmoscopy was underway. After evaluating his eyes I was concerned about his left retina. There was a very subtle change in its appearance and I knew it could be the beginning of something more serious. I sat down with the young fellow and explained to him the importance of referring him to a retinal specialist who would perform more tests and determine the exact problem going on.
Lo and behold today I received his referral report to find out that he had the beginning of a retinal detachment. If undiagnosed, he could have lost all/part of his vision in that eye. He’s undergoing retinal surgery tomorrow with a promising prognosis.
Thanks, Dr. Elman at Elman Retina Group, P.A. for working together to provide excellent care for our patients!