Atrium Health Navicent Ophthalmology Macon

Medical Eye Exams

Doctor giving a chart reading eye test

Your eyes are an important organ in your body that can help you take in the world. Without good vision, you may be limited in the types of activities you can participate in, such as driving a car. Many different problems can reduce vision. In addition, many other health issues can be discovered during a simple eye exam. Taking care of your overall health is important and routine eye exams are an important part of that process.

Comprehensive eye exams are recommended at least every two years though some ophthalmologists recommend visits every year. Not only can eye problems be diagnosed, but, the eye is unique in that it can be used as a window to screen for other diseases and conditions as well.


Some people think that they do not need to visit an eye doctor because they do not notice any changes in their vision. Vision, however, changes very gradually, and you may be surprised when you see through new prescription glasses. An eye exam can detect these small changes so that optimal vision can be obtained.


Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure in the eyeball is increased. Since a person cannot detect this increase on his or her own, a diagnostic test during an eye exam is crucial. The test requires a numbing eye drop and then an instrument is used to gently assess the pressure within the eyeball. This quick and painless procedure should be a part of any routine eye exam. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, damaging the optic nerve, and it is irreversible if not caught early.


When a person has cataracts, the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. It may start out small at first but gradually increases in size, causing blurred and reduced vision. While you may not notice the effects of cataracts at first, an eye exam can detect this condition. Cataracts often occur as you age. There are several types of cataracts, which affect your eyes in different ways. Phacoemulsification surgery using ultrasound power is one method commonly used as a means of getting rid of the cloudy lens, which is then replaced by a clear one.

Macular Degeneration

This disease is another leading cause of vision loss in patients over the age of 60. With macular degeneration, the cells in the macula of the eye die, causing the loss of fine detailed vision. It can occur so gradually that a person does not notice the loss or it can occur more rapidly. While there is no cure, there are treatments available, which may help patients.


A person with undiagnosed diabetes often has high levels of sugar in their blood. The high sugar levels are damaging to the small capillaries of the body. In particular, they are damaging to the small capillaries within the eye and can be seen by an eye doctor. These capillaries may leak blood or a yellowish fluid in the eye. This condition is known as diabetic retinopathy.

High Blood Pressure

The small blood vessels and capillaries within the eye can also be a way of detecting high blood pressure. When these small vessels have bends, kinks, or tears in them, it may be an indication that a person's overall blood pressure is higher than normal, causing damage to the vessels. Since a person does not usually notice when blood pressure is high, this is one more way of detecting the problem. Using a blood pressure cuff to measure blood pressure can produce a firm result.

High Cholesterol

The cornea of the eye can be a determinant in the diagnosis of high cholesterol. In young people, it may have a yellowish appearance or a white ring around it, which can be a sign of high cholesterol in the body. Though this is a preliminary screening for high cholesterol, it is one way that the eye can help the doctor see ways that the body is not functioning optimally. Further blood testing is needed to determine the levels of cholesterol and the treatments that may be necessary, but an early detection via the eye can be beneficial.

Thyroid Disease

A condition known as Graves' can affect the eyes. Bulging or protruding eyes are one of the first signs that a person has this disease. An overactive thyroid gland is the cause of this disease. Once a firm diagnosis is made through blood testing, it can be easily treated with medications.

The routine eye exam can tell you so much about your health. It is important to schedule regular visits with your eye doctor.