Eyes can be cues for health problems

News editor

It can be easy at times to overlook vision problems, but nobody should ignore a change in their vision, especially a sudden change, optometrist Zach Unruh of Mid Kansas Eyecare in Hillsboro said.

“The danger in vision problems is ignoring them, because they can indicate systemic problems that can be taken care of if you don’t ignore them,” Unruh said.

The eyes are very sensitive tissue, so they are often one of the first places noticeably affected by problems elsewhere in the body — diabetes and high blood pressure often manifest in vision issues, Unruh said, and brain problems like strokes, tumors, and aneurysms are likely to be noticeable in a person’s vision.

The reason brain issues so often are noticeable in a person’s vision is because the part of the brain that processes signals from a person’s eyes is in the back of the brain. Signals have to make their way through the rest of the brain first, so anything out of the ordinary will affect vision.

Even if vision problems aren’t caused by problems elsewhere in the body, uncorrected vision issues can lead to eye strain, which can contribute to fatigue and headaches, Unruh said.

A person’s vision is most likely to change naturally before the age of 20 or 22, Unruh said. He encourages parents to have a child’s vision checked around age 3. Young children don’t often complain about vision problems, because they don’t know how clearly they should be able to see, he said.

If nothing is wrong, another exam isn’t usually warranted until a child is ready to begin school, then around once a year afterward.

The most common time when a person’s vision will change, and require corrective lenses, is 10 to 13 years old, he said, while he or she goes through a growth spurt. By age 20 or 22, though, a person’s vision usually stabilizes.

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