Ophthalmological examinations. When to do them?

There is a saying that ‘prevention is better than cure’. And we, as a reference ophthalmology center in Barcelona, could not agree more. It is always, always much better to anticipate the appearance of any disease in order to treat it more efficiently and more effectively.

How often should I check my eyesight?

That is why we always recommend having at least one eye check-up a year to detect any pathology and receive the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

As we have just said, the idea is always to anticipate the appearance of any disease. This will allow us to significantly increase the percentage of success in treatment.

There is a concept that should be very clear to us: asymptomatic. What does it mean? It means that many pathologies do not produce any pain. They simply appear and develop without us noticing anything. Until there comes a point where we notice a decrease in vision.

What are these asymptomatic pathologies?

There are several, but the most important and most dangerous is glaucoma.

As we have already explained in the article on glaucoma, it is a disease known as ‘silent blindness’. And this is so because of its asymptomatic nature.

Glaucoma causes an increase in intraocular pressure that is transmitted directly to the optic nerve. We remember that the optic nerve is the structure in charge of transmitting what we see to our brain -in fact, there are those who consider it as an extension of the brain itself-. The point is that this increase in pressure damages the fibers that make up the optic nerve, which are like the cables that transmit information. Therefore, each fiber that breaks is a fiber that stops transmitting. This results in the appearance of a small black spot when focusing on objects. This is the moment when we realize that something is happening and we go to the ophthalmologist in Barcelona. The problem is that these broken fibers can no longer be recovered, so the loss of vision that we have suffered will be irreversible.

What can I do to avoid losing vision?

We return to the same concept on which this article revolves: prevention. If we continuously carry out controls, we can anticipate glaucoma and other diseases and treat them before they cause irreversible damage to our sight.

visión optica

What is a follow-up visit?

A routine follow-up visit consists of various tests and check-ups. The first and foremost is to check if our vision is correct. The optometrist takes care of this. It is that moment in which we must look at some letters to see how far we are able to see. With this, what we analyze is our visual acuity. If we have a record of previous visits and we observe a decrease, it is already a warning sign that something is happening. It does not have to be a serious disease such as glaucoma or retinal detachment, but it is showing us that we must continue to study our eyes in greater depth.

Whether or not the optometrist detects an anomaly, there is another test that is also performed routinely because it provides us with a lot of information: OCT. These acronyms mean Optical Coherence Tomography -in English Optical Coherence Tomography- and, as we say, it provides us with a lot of information because it is capable of studying many important structures of our eyes. Mainly a scan of the retina and its different layers is performed, including the macula -which is our central point of vision- and the optic nerve. In this way we can make an early diagnosis of both a possible glaucoma and the appearance of AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration), etc.

At Castanera Ophthalmology Clinic we always have the latest technology and our OCT is capable, in addition to analyzing the retina, of analyzing another very important structure: the cornea. The cornea is the first of the lenses that we have, the one that is in direct contact with the outside. Thanks to the specific scanner of this device we can analyze the exact thickness of the cornea as well as if there is any structural damage that reveals the presence of any pathology, such as keratoconus, possible keratitis, etc.

‍If in any of these previous checks If any important anomaly is detected, the patient is referred directly to the specialist ophthalmologist who will carry out a more in-depth analysis of the eye using the slit lamp. The slit lamp is one of the most used instruments in an ophthalmological consultation and allows us to study both the cornea and the lens in depth. If the doctor detects, or suspects that there may be some other pathology, she can request that many other tests be carried out that complement the diagnosis and allow elucidating what the specific problem is.

What other tests can I have during the control visit?

The diagnostic tests described above would be the most basic with which we can obtain a lot of information about the state of our eyes. But if we need to complement, we have a whole battery of diagnostic tests that allow us to refine the diagnosis a lot.

It would take too long to define each one of them, but we would like to highlight some of the most important ones.

  • Campimetry or Visual Field: It allows us to obtain a color map that will reveal those parts of our visual field in which our vision is more limited or null
  • Topography:  Thanks to this diagnostic test we obtain a very detailed view of the shape of our cornea, with its different thicknesses and possible anomalies.
  • Endothelial count: The endothelium is the innermost layer of our cornea. Having a good number of healthy cells is essential to have good visual quality. Thanks to a specular microscope we can take a photo of these cells and count them to establish whether our endothelium is in good health.

From what age do I have to carry out periodic check-ups?

We recommend carrying out the check-ups from 2 or 3 years of age. It must be taken into account that already in the first years of life, and especially in those that fall on the first years of the school stage, it is very important to maintain good visual quality, to avoid, among other things, situations of school failure.

And of course you should go to the ophthalmologist whenever we detect a change or drop in our vision. It is always better to come and see that it is a simple conjunctivitis than to wait and let a retinal detachment evolve, which is a much more serious pathology.