Eye exams are crucial to overall health

​October is cancer awareness month, and it's a great time to get your eyes checked.

You already know that eye exams detect your prescription and determine how near- or farsighted you are, and can often end in getting a stylish new pair of glasses. But did you know that these annual exams are crucial to your overall health and wellness—and can prove to be life changing? It’s true.

Take the story of 53-year-old Hal. He made an appointment for his eye exam, expecting nothing more than a sharper prescription and some new frames, but he ended up leaving with a life-saving referral.

“During a comprehensive eye exam, we routinely look inside a patient’s eyes for signs of any changes,” Dr. Art Corish says, retelling his experience with Hal. “In Hal’s case, when I dilated his eyes and examined them, I saw an unusual growth in the back of the eye—something that hadn’t been there in earlier exams.”

That growth was a rare form of cancer called ocular melanoma. Melanomas are a kind of cancer that usually occurs on the skin, but ocular melanoma develops within the cells that make pigment in the eye. This form of cancer is so rare that symptoms are often missed. 

According to Dr. Corish, “There are dozens of conditions patients won’t notice themselves until the diseases are quite advanced. Glaucoma, hypertension, diabetes, and tumors are just a few of the many diseases we look for when examining patients at their regular check-ups.”

Hal has since received radiation and his tumor shrank until it completely disappeared. Without his annual check-up, Hal could have lost his eye, or even his life.

Prevention is the best way to keep your eyes and body healthy.