Routine eye exams are an important part of keeping your vision sharp and your eyes healthy. As a recent news story shared by the American Academy of Ophthalmology illustrates, eye exams can also save a life. The eye doctors from Visual Health explain more here.

From the Ophthalmologist’s Office to a Cancer Diagnosis in 12 Hours

A Mississippi teenager named Nick Myers was getting ready to head out of town to a soccer tournament but couldn’t leave until he secured a refill of his contact lens prescription. When the local Walmart pharmacy could not fit him in to refill his prescription, Nick’s mother called Dr. Gene Gaddy, the father of one of Nick’s soccer teammates, thinking he could help.

Before refilling Nick’s contact lens prescription, Dr. Gaddy sat the teen down for an eye exam. Dr. Gaddy thought it was odd that Nick’s vision was 20/25 in both eyes with glasses (normal is 20/20 for teenagers).

A dilated eye exam turned up something even more serious. Dr. Gaddy noticed two pinpoint hemorrhages on Nick’s retina. When the doctor took a pause and looked at Nick, he thought the teen looked pale, which was worrisome for an athlete. Dr. Gaddy recommended to Nick and his mom that Nick undergo some blood work.

The blood tests confirmed that something was, indeed, wrong with Nick. His white blood cell count was over 50,000 and his hemoglobin was less than 4 grams, indicating that Nick had leukemia. He was taken by ambulance to a children’s hospital about 70 miles away, where he started receiving blood transfusions. This was about 12 hours after his eye exam with Dr. Gaddy.

Nick underwent three years of chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and is now in remission. He is a healthy, thriving college student. He and his family credit Dr. Gaddy for saving his life with a simple eye exam. Had Dr. Gaddy not been as thorough, the leukemia may have gone unnoticed and progressed quietly.

What to Expect During an Eye Exam

Our team hopes that this story will further convince you of the importance of regular eye exams. Even if you are not experiencing any noticeable symptoms, your eyes could reveal a clue into your overall health. The eyes are an important part of the nervous system and abnormalities can show up in the eye’s blood vessels before they are seen in other parts of the body.

An eye exam evaluates nearly every aspect of your vision and the health of your eyes. Some of the tests include a visual acuity test, a cover test to check how the eyes work together, refraction to determine eyeglass prescription, and a glaucoma test. The pupils are dilated to get a good look at the inside of the eyes, including the retina.

Schedule an Eye Exam with Visual Health

If you would like to schedule an eye exam with the Visual Health team, please contact us at our Palm Springs office at (561) 964-0707 or our Jupiter office at (561) 747-1111.