The coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to suffer from problems due to missed appointments. What’s behind the “silent pandemic” of health care disruption? Initially, health care resources shifted their focus from primary and preventive care to fighting the virus. As 2020 continued, many people feared going to doctor’s offices and hospitals, concerned about coronavirus exposure. A recent report by the Prevent Cancer Foundation found that 43 percent of their surveyed participants had missed preventive care appointments during the pandemic.
Now, in 2021, we celebrate the vaccination that will help quell fears of contagion. Even so, people are still slow to reschedule the appointments they missed during the pandemic’s peak. Your health is potentially at risk if you keep putting off these important visits.
Why Comprehensive Eye Exams are Important
Many of us take an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to our vision. As long as we can see well enough, it’s easy to let preventive eye care fall to the wayside—and that’s true even when we aren’t in a pandemic. However, seeing Dr. Matzkin or Dr. Herron is more than just a vision check. It’s an important part of your overall preventive health care strategy.
What systemic health conditions can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam? High blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease are often first detected by an ophthalmologist. This is because small changes in the eye’s vascular network are silent warning signs that can appear well before you notice other symptoms.
Eye Problems Associated with Missed Eye Doctor Visits
What are some of the problems that can happen if you fail to adhere to your eye doctor’s recommended exam schedule?
- Inadequate vision correction: Your prescription for eyeglasses or contacts might have changed over the past year. Because the eye is so adaptable, you may not notice that your current eyewear has become too weak. If you are experiencing more frequent headaches or things just seem slightly off-kilter, you’re likely overdue for new corrective lenses.
- Worsening macular degeneration: If you’ve been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), visit adherence is critical. According to a Penn Medicine study, missing even one ophthalmology appointment is associated with decreased visual acuity in AMD patients. If you’re receiving anti-VEGF injection therapy for AMD, you must keep every appointment to prevent further vision deterioration.
- Diabetic retinopathy progression: Some people with diabetic retinopathy need a comprehensive eye exam every two to four months to stay ahead of retinal changes that can lead to blindness. Missing appointments can keep you from getting injections and laser treatments that help slow disease progression.
- Glaucoma detection: Glaucoma elevates the pressure within the eye and can damage the optic nerve to the point of vision loss. In most cases, the pressure slowly rises, giving the condition the nickname “sneak thief of sight.” Regular eye exams will detect these changes before permanent damage occurs.
Getting Back on Track
Now is a great time to reschedule eye doctor appointments you missed during the height of the pandemic. Our ophthalmologist, Dr. Matzkin, and our optometrist, Dr. Herron, are ready to welcome you back into a regular eye health care routine. Call or text us today at (423) 855-8522 and find out how we can help with all your eye care needs.
If fear of coronavirus exposure is still keeping you at home, know that we’re in this together! Please read our COVID-19 protocol to see our proactive approach to limit your risk. We hope to see you and your beautiful eyes soon!