We are lucky to live in Boulder, Colorado! The people here are generally kind, in tune with their health and often more educated than most folks in similar sized and even larger cities. In fact, Boulder ranks above Durham (think Duke University), Cupertino, CA (think Apple), Seattle, WA and Washington, D.C. such that it is in the top ten cities with the highest per-capita rate of those holding doctorates or PhDs. With this amazing level of education, I am floored when I regularly hear from people I meet on the street or accompanying other patients in my clinic put forth statements such as: “I don’t need an exam. I see fine. I had LASIK ten years ago”. Wow. That’s like me telling my family doctor “Ya know, Doc, I can still run a mile under seven minutes. No need for a routine check. I’m all good”. Or me telling my dentist: “Yep, I have no problem eating. Everything is fine”.
Perhaps this is an exaggeration. However, I am convinced even smart people are inclined to think that good vision equals perfect eyes. Or by extension, that medications they take or systemic disorders they have are somehow magically isolated from their eyes. As if blood vessels, nerves and the lymph system simply don’t touch their eyes. Hmm..not exactly what I learned in my pathology, histology, anatomy and microbiology classes.
I’m here to tell you this thinking is plain wrong. I’ve seen hundreds of people who can see 20/20 without correction yet they have early (often undiagnosed) glaucoma, impending corneal disorders or various retinal disorders which can easily be treated if caught early enough. Unfortunately, most of the primary disease processes (first occurring in the eyes) typically are painless. Let’s not forget – we’ve all heard that the eyes are the window to the soul, right? Well, I’ve yet to see the essence of a person by gazing at their retina. However, the eye is the only place where one can view the delicate tissue which transforms light into vision, the super-fine capillaries which lay on top and below the retina and the delicate nerve fibers coursing back to the brain all without a single incision, CT scan or other invasive technique. This tissue also has the highest metabolic rate of any tissue in the human body! Ever hear of the term “Canary in a coal mine”? Well, suffice it to say, much can be gleaned by examining the ocular tissues. Some disorders I evaluate are pathognomonic – meaning they can only arise from one certain diagnosis or disease process. Other disorders alert me to inform your family physician, internist, endocrinologist, OB-GYN, rheumatologist or even emergency department physician to possibly perform additional testing, to perhaps start (or stop) certain medications or to be aware of conditions having a negative impact.
I’ve seen diabetic patients tolerate the removal of toes and feet due to poor circulation secondary to even poorer glucose control. Yet, when I inform them they will likely lose their eyesight within 6 months if they continue their current A1C levels (blood glucose), they quickly do an about face and get their act together. Most folks would rather face cancer than lose their vision. So, why are people hesitant to have a painless, routine eye examination for a very reasonable fee, if not for free under insurance? People think nothing of spending $65 for a nice manicure or $125 for a dinner which is digested and gone within 12 hours – yet ignore the very eyes which let them see that nice dinner or their loved one’s face hopefully for their entire lives.
Don’t take your sight for granted! You only get one pair of eyes…think about how much you depend on them. Come see me for an enjoyable examination experience at Alpine EyeCare Center. I’ll do everything I can to make the experience pleasurable. Heck, we most likely will have a good time and become friends!
For great information about your eyes and health, be sure to visit: http://www.allaboutvision.com/