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Is Your Medical History Important in an Eye Exam?

Posted: July 9, 2019

Medical History

Eye exams can tell you more than how strong your eyeglass prescription should be. Did you know that they can also detect serious health conditions? That’s why it’s so important to have regular comprehensive eye exams with an ophthalmologist.

You should have an eye exam every two years unless your doctor recommends differently. When you have your exam, your doctor will ask you about your and your family’s medical history. It’s a very important part of your exam, so provide as much detail as you can. Here are some of the topics you’ll probably discuss:

Your Family Medical History

Many eye diseases and disorders are hereditary. For example, you are 50 percent more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD) if it runs in your family and four to nine times more likely to develop glaucoma if it’s in your family history. If you know your family’s medical history and share it with your eye doctor, s/he will be able to provide the best care possible for your unique situation. If your history warrants it, they may recommend more frequent exams. This will increase the likelihood that potential eye diseases will be caught early, which could help save your vision.

Your Own Medical History

Just like your family’s medical history, your own medical history can help your eye doctor monitor your vision and alert them to warning signs that could lead to eye complications and blindness. For example, if you have high blood pressure, it could damage the blood vessels in your retina, which could cause vision problems. If you’re diabetic, you are at a high risk for diabetic eye disease, which is one of the most common causes of blindness.

The Kinds of Medications You Take

Your eye doctor will ask you if you take any medications because eye damage might be a side effect of your prescription meds. If you take medication that may blur your vision or cause any other eye problems, you should tell your doctor so they can monitor your eye health. One drug that can affect your vision is Plaquenil, a common medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus patients; it can damage your retina. Steroids such as Prednisone can also lead to cataracts and glaucoma.

Your Smoking/Drinking Habits

You might expect questions about smoking and drinking to come from your primary care physician, but you your eye doctor will also ask you if you smoke cigarettes. That’s because smoking can lead to age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Your eye doctor will also ask you if you’re a heavy drinker, which can put you at a higher risk for AMD.

When it’s time for your eye exam, an Ophthalmic Assistant will probably be the person who takes your medical history and helps perform diagnostic tests. If you’re interested in learning about a career as an Ophthalmic Assistant, Career Quest Learning Centers has a comprehensive program you can complete in as little as eight months. It even includes a 180-hour externship so you can get some real-world experience before you get a real job in the field. Give us a call at 877-481-4930 to learn more now.