Do you need a regular eye check-up even if your vision is fine? Malaysian experts weigh in

An ophthalmologist checks the inside and back of the eyes using a high-powered lens. ― Picture courtesy of VISTA Eye Specialist
An ophthalmologist checks the inside and back of the eyes using a high-powered lens. ― Picture courtesy of VISTA Eye Specialist

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 ― One’s eyesight is undoubtedly one of the most important senses for all living creatures, especially humans.

Almost all of what we perceive comes through our sense of sight.

Yet, many people neglect taking care of their precious eyes or even keep their eyes in check before it’s too late. Especially those who don’t need optical glasses probably think they don’t need to get their eyes checked regularly or ever.

But the importance of an annual eye examination goes well beyond just the ability to read the letter “E” from a distance.

To better understand the importance of regular eye examination, Malay Mail spoke to VISTA Eye Specialist consultant ophthalmologists Dr Anson Teh and Dr Calvin Lim.

Like any other organ in the human body, Dr Teh said the eyes also need a comprehensive examination to detect any problems early when they are most treatable.

“Many of us believe that if we can see well, we don’t need to get our eyes checked, and while good vision is clearly important, it is equally crucial to have an eye check even when we can see well, similar to a regular dental check-up.”

Interestingly, Dr Teh noted that an eye examination is not always only about assessing one’s vision.

According to him, it gives the ophthalmologist a chance to screen for diseases, provides you with eye care tips, and reveals issues associated with general health, such as hypertension, diabetes, etc.

“It is a process involving the examination of the whole eye, from outer to internal.”

Dr Teh said regular comprehensive eye examination could effectively save people from serious eye diseases such as cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment, all of which can lead to preventable blindness.

An optometrist checks a patient's retina and optic nerve using the OCT machine. ― Picture courtesy of VISTA Eye Specialist
An optometrist checks a patient's retina and optic nerve using the OCT machine. ― Picture courtesy of VISTA Eye Specialist

Who should go for such tests?

Eye diseases do not discriminate and can occur at any stage of life, regardless of age.

Dr Lim said from birth through to adolescent years; children are vulnerable to common childhood eye problems such as lazy eyes (amblyopia), cross-eyes (strabismus) and refractive errors (long or short-sightedness and astigmatism).

“These problems can be looked out for by a paediatrician, family doctor or optometrist at the age between three and five.

“If such complications are detected, they will usually be referred to an ophthalmologist for confirmation and treatment.”

Dr Lim said vision tests are vital for school children before entering kindergarten or primary school. Many of them are prone to have undetected refractive errors such as short-sightedness or myopia, affecting their ability to learn at school.

“Although myopia is irreversible, helping to slow down the progression can do a world of good so that our kids do not end up with high myopia and all its attendant problems.”

For adults, Dr Lim said they should be even more vigilant to get checked for early signs of eye diseases related to age.

“For an adult with good vision, it is recommended to have a complete eye examination at the age of 40 when some vision changes such as presbyopia or eye diseases are likely to start.

“In your 20s and 30s, it is a good idea to have a complete eye examination by an ophthalmologist especially if you wear glasses or contact lenses, have a family history of eye disease or vision loss, or takes any medications that can have serious side effects on your eyes.”

Dr Lim also cautioned that those who are 60 and above must get checked every year or two.

“Your ophthalmologist will check for signs of the most common age-related eye diseases such as cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).”

If you are still wondering, Dr Lim said the ophthalmologist usually determines the examination frequency after the first examination.

What to expect when you go for your eye exam?

The comprehensive eye examination at VISTA Eye Specialist has a few important steps to ensure no stone is left unturned.

Firstly during registration, you will be required to disclose any medical history for the optometrist and ophthalmologist to look out for potential eye conditions arising from the patient’s underlying health conditions.

Upon completion, you are off to a series of eye checks on machines managed by the optometrist.

The result from the machine examination lets the ophthalmologist diagnose any eye complications.

One of them is the eye pressure test with a light air puff blowing into the eyes to diagnose glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve and eventually lead to blindness.

Also, a non-invasive optical coherence tomography (OCT), similar to a CT scan, will be done to check for eye diseases related to the retina and optic nerve. This crucial yet simple screening gives instant results with several data for ophthalmologists to diagnose, manage and follow-up on the patient — all for early detection, thereby preventing blindness.

The eye check-up also includes a few stages of examination to get the most accurate eye power and vision.

The optometrist instils a few eyedrops to dilate your eyes, where you will be required to close your eyes for 20-30 minutes for the dilation to take place.

The ophthalmologist will then use a high powered lens and under the slit lamp to see the inside and the back of the eyes; checking on the anterior (eyelids, lashes, cornea, iris, lens and anterior chamber) and posterior (vitreous, retina, the optic disk and the retinal blood vessels) part.

This is for diagnosis of cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, keratoconus and retinal detachment.

A consultation session with the customer care consultant completes the process. This lets you understand the ophthalmologist’s diagnosis and treatment prescription. While also explaining the purpose and use of eye drops and medication, as well as brief on payment and insurance claims procedures for the treatment.

Surprisingly, the comprehensive package comes with a considerably reasonable price tag of RM198 (inclusive of OCT), making it a worthwhile option to keep any potential eye complication at bay with regular yearly screening.

For more information about VISTA Eye Specialist, surf over here.

Call 1800-88-3937 or email [email protected] for enquiries.

KKLIU NO.: 2338/2021, valid till December 31, 2023

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