Some of my earliest and best memories of my childhood come from being with my father. I remember at a young age sitting on his feet with my sister as he came home from work, likely very tired, yet he would walk with us on his feet as if we were a pair of shoes. We also did a lot of fishing out on the Kawartha lakes or Georgian Bay, we never talked much, but we connected on a level that can only be understood between a father and son. For all these moments and many more that I haven’t mentioned, and for everything my father taught me I feel there is little I can do to give back to him. Although being an optometrist myself, one thing I can do is help ensure (and maybe even enforce) that my dad gets the eye care he needs, especially now since he is getting a little older and problems are more likely to occur (sorry dad).
When most people think of optometrists, the first thing to come to mind is the reading chart on the wall which allows the optometrist to measure the level of detail we can see from a distance. This is a very important measurement because seeing small letters is often an indicator of a healthy visual system. However, like with anything else, there is much more depth to draw from an eye examination that gives the optometrist a deeper understanding of not just the quality of our vision and the health our eyes, but our overall health. An example of this is when the doctor views the back of the eye or retina with a bright light, which is surely another memorable but less desirable moment in the test room. By doing so, the doctor can see and assess the state of the retina, blood vessels and optic nerve. Many general health conditions happening else where in the body can affect these structures, including high blood sugar and high blood pressure. Thus a routine eye examination is an essential part of preventative health care as it can help identify these problems and when they are poorly controlled. Additionally, the neurological wiring of our visual system makes up approximately 40% of sensory information processed by our brain! This means that an eye examination helps the optometrist gain insight about the deeper wiring and visual pathways behind the eye by performing simple tests like pupil reactions, testing eye movements, or assessing visual fields.
So an eye examination isn’t just about getting a new pair of glasses and improving how well we see, it’s an examination that allows the optometrist to look through a window to access clues about our intrinsic well being that extends beyond the eye. Being prescribed glasses to have the clearest vision possible is still essential because clear vision allows our perception of the world to be processed most efficiently, but hopefully by now I hope you understand there are other aspects to an eye test. So, to all you fathers out there, I urge you to get your eyes tested and stay healthy! And to all sons and daughters, make sure he gets it done!
Whatever it is you’re doing today, I hope you have the best fathers day yet.
Written by Paul Zielinski