President's Prescription: Get Your Eyes Checked

Published: Mar. 3, 2012 at 2:56 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 26, 2012 at 9:44 PM CDT
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I'll never forget in 6th grade, a little girl let me try on her glasses. Putting them on changed my world. The scribble on the board turned into letters and numbers. And I could see leaves on trees! Within days I got my first pair of glasses.

The eyes are wonderful, extremely complex organs. But there are a few simple ways you can identify symptoms that a professional should evaluate. Just pay attention to how your eyes feel, look and see.

First… How do your eyes feel?

Many conditions that affect the eyes cause changes in their sensation. These can be as minor as allergies or as major as glaucoma. Ask yourself: Do you have pain in or around your eyes? Do they burn or itch? Do you have excessive tearing? Are you overly sensitive to light? If so, see your eye doctor. These symptoms, particularly if new, deserve to be checked out. Treatment can provide great relief.

How do your eyes look?

Inspect the lids and lashes. Are they swollen or crusty? Now, the whites of the eyes: Are they bloodshot? Finally, check out the iris (the colored part of the eye) and the pupil (the black center). Has there been a change in the color of the iris? Is a pupil misshapen, or is one pupil larger than the other? These changes may occur with or without other symptoms but can indicate underlying problems, including cataracts.

How do your eyes see?

A quick and easy way to assess your vision is to play "I spy" with yourself. Play with one eye covered, then the other, and then with both eyes open. Start by looking at distant objects (license plates, billboards, trees). Can you clearly see details like letters and leaves?

What about objects closer to you? Hold a magazine page at arm's length and read the print. Now slowly move it in closer to your face until the letters blur. Is it 24 inches away? Maybe 12 inches?

People without vision problems can see clearly at just 6 inches away.

What about in the dark? Can you adjust to low-light situations?

All this is no substitute for an eye exam, but it can make gradual problems more obvious to you.

You may say: "Tedd, I took your test, and my vision is perfect. So do I really need to have my eyes checked?" Even with perfect vision, illnesses that eventually rob your eyesight can occur without symptoms. So, the answer is – Absolutely! Get your eyes checked.

From the TTUHSC, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell and this is the President's Prescription.