Stay on top of your eye health | Other Opinions

Stay on top of your eye health | Other Opinions

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When is the last time you had an eye exam? Have you been postponing eye care due to fear of getting COVID-19?

Since the start of the pandemic, our local eye care centers in Aitkin and McGregor and statewide have implemented new cleaning and sanitizing protocols to keep patients safe. Masks are worn by all eye care staff and patients. The same is true at Riverwood Healthcare Center should you need eye surgery.

When it comes to scheduling preventive health appointments, eye exams are often overlooked. At best, many people may assume a basic visual screening will suffice. However, seeing a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist for comprehensive exams is important for everyone’s overall health.

Comprehensive eye exams are performed by optometrists or ophthalmologists and include a vision assessment and overall evaluation of the health of your eyes. During an exam, each eye is examined for signs of serious eye issues such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal disease and retinal tears or detachments, among other conditions.

Receiving regular eye exams regardless of any vision impairment can help detect serious eye problems at the earliest stage when they are most treatable.

Annual eye exams are recommended by our local optometrist and ophthalmologists. However, individuals with specific health conditions may need to see an eye care professional more frequently. Some of those conditions include when you have severe vision loss, eye discomfort, when you wear eyeglasses or corrective lenses, when there is a family history of eye disease such as glaucoma or macular degeneration; and when you have a chronic disease like diabetes or high blood pressure that increases the risk of eye disease.

Regular eye exams can help identify many other health conditions. A licensed doctor will use your eye evaluation to assist in assessing your overall health. Close evaluation of the blood vessels in the eye can help detect major health problems, including diabetes. Tears or bends in blood vessels in the eye may identify high blood pressure. A yellow tint or ring around the cornea may signify high cholesterol.

Bulging or protruding eyeballs can be a sign of thyroid problems. Eye inflammation can be a sign of an autoimmune disorder such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Close examination of the eyelids can detect early basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer). Occasionally, life-threatening conditions such as intraocular melanoma (cancer), brain tumors, aneurysms and strokes are identified on a routine eye exam.

Regardless of how satisfied you are with your eyesight, scheduling annual eye exams is a great way to stay on top of your overall health.

The Eyecare Center of Aitkin and McGregor offers eye care from two experienced optometrists, Dr. Steven Kinzer and Dr. David Hakes. When you need eye surgery, the Great River Eye Clinic has three ophthalmologists, Dr. Stacy Sjoberg, Dr. Adam Ahlquist and Dr. Joseph Merck, who are skilled in cataract and glaucoma management and surgeries.

Eyecare Centers in Aitkin and McGregor, and Riverwood hospital have adapted very well to the safety concerns surrounding the pandemic. Dr. Steven Kinzer and Dr. David Hakes continue to provide excellent comprehensive eye care to the local community as they have for many years. It’s a privilege to serve the community alongside them in providing surgical eye care. We look forward to seeing you in the clinic to assist in preserving and restoring your vision and the quality of life it provides!

Dr. Joseph Merck is a board-certified ophthalmic surgeon with Great River Eye Clinic who sees patients at the Eyecare Center in McGregor and performs eye surgery at Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin.

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