SIGMt 2024 Spring Flip Book File

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76 | SIGNATURE MONTANA TO YOUR HEALTH DR. JUSTINE REDLIN As an optometrist, I oen encounter patients who are well-informed about common refractive errors like myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), and astigmatism, which typically require glasses or contact lenses for correction. However, there's a widespread misconception that if your vision is clear, regular eye exams aren't necessary. is couldn't be further from the truth. Eye exams are pivotal, not only for diagnosing vision impairments but also for detecting other conditions that might not directly impact your sight but could signify broader health issues. Here are some of the common conditions that can be uncovered during a routine eye check-up: Glaucoma, a condition oen called the "silent thief of sight," typically presents no symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. ere are many types of glaucoma, but the most prevalent involves increased pressure inside the eye, which can damage the optic nerve and gradually lead to the loss of peripheral vision. is loss can be subtle because your eyes compensate for each other, and your central vision remains clear. Over time, peripheral vision may slowly narrow, eventually leading to what is known as tunnel vision—this is considered the end-stage of the disease. Fortunately, if glaucoma is detected early through regular eye exams and treated consistently—most commonly with prescription eye drops— most patients will not experience significant vision loss. Cataracts are an exceedingly common eye condition that nearly everyone will encounter as they age. is condition involves clouding the eye's natural lens, which is initially clear at birth but gradually becomes more opaque and can change color over time. Key risk factors that can accelerate the development of cataracts include excessive exposure to UV light and smoking. Fortunately, cataract surgery has become a straightforward and low-risk procedure, offering an effective solution to restore clear vision. Macular degeneration is an eye disease that specifically targets the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision. In its early stages, this condition typically does not present any symptoms. However, if detected during a routine eye exam, your doctor will recommend a supplement to support macular health. e dry form of macular degeneration is carefully monitored through regular scans and photos to observe any changes, such as swelling or bleeding. e presence of swelling or bleeding can indicate a progression to the wet form of the disease, which requires immediate intervention by a retinal specialist. Factors that increase the risk of developing macular degeneration include genetics, poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. Regular eye exams are crucial to catch these changes early and manage the condition effectively. For more information, contact Treasure State Eye Care in Great Falls – 406-727-9160 BEYOND 20/20 The Critical Role of Eye Exams in Detecting Hidden Health Issues

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