Considering it's a marvel of design, the human eye doesn't get a lot of respect. We wake up, we see (often with help from glasses or contacts) and move on with our lives. Most of us take our sight for granted and see an eye specialist every few years or so.
But there's a good chance some of us skip that check-up.
About half of the estimated 61 million adults in the United States who are at high risk for serious vision loss haven't visited an ophthalmologist in the past 12 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 35 percent of adults don't see an eye doc because their vision is A-OK and they don't think an exam is necessary.
Here's the problem: Eye exams not only gauge your vision, but can also provide vital information about your overall health. Many people may have other ailments, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infectious disease, or even an autoimmune disorder, and may not know it until they get their eyes checked.
"The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but they can also tell us about a lot of systemic diseases, and the severity of those diseases," explains Dr. Suber Huang, chief executive of Retina Center of Ohio in Cleveland and chair of the National Institutes of Health National Eye Health Education Program Steering Committee.
The message is straightforward. "Anything that is new in terms of a change in your vision could be potentially worrisome," says Huang, past president of the American Society of Retina Specialists.
Floaters occur when the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80 percent of the eye and helps it maintain a round shape, slowly shrinks. As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy, and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina. These are floaters