Vision and eye care are important, even for people with no discernible eye problems. The eye is one of the body’s most fragile organs, and it requires regular examination and treatment when necessary in order remain healthy and function properly. To help you protect your vision, DocShop has provided a comprehensive vision and eye care guide. Below you will find links to topics covered on our educational resource pages.
Whatever your age, no matter how strong your eyesight is, one of the best things you can do for your eyes is keep up with regularly scheduled eye examinations. We have compiled valuable information concerning the importance of eye exams, how often you should undergo an eye exam, and what eye problems your doctor will test you for during an exam.
Eye problems often occur due to age or environmental factors, but sometimes eye problems result from an eye injury. While an eye injury can be a terrifying experience, an eye care professional can allay some of your fears and provide you with the proper eye care to help ensure your eye injury does not escalate into a permanent vision problem. We have compiled many tips on keeping your eyes protected, general eye safety, and what to do in the event of an eye injury.
General Eye Symptoms
Even the mildest eye symptoms can be warning signs of a serious vision problem. In an attempt to give people clearer guidelines on when to seek professional vision care, we've included a list of common eye symptoms and what they may mean.
About the Eye
Some people liken the eye to a camera. As light passes through the lens, it is bent and transposed onto the eye's film: the retina. The film is then ‘developed' by the brain, becoming the image that we see. In order for an individual to have perfect vision, all components of the eye must be functioning properly. Otherwise, eye diseases and refractive errors can lead to impaired vision. Read the sections below to learn more about how the eye functions, its structures, and the eye diseases and refractive errors that result in imperfect vision.
How the Eye Functions
As light enters the eye, it first passes through the cornea, the clear outer portion of the eye. Because the cornea is curved, the light rays bend, allowing light to pass through the pupil to the lens. The iris, or colored part of the eye, regulates the amount of light that enters the eye with the ciliary muscles. These muscles cause the pupil to contract when exposed to excess light or to dilate when there is too little light.
When light hits the curved surface of the lens, it is refracted and brought into focus on the retina. The retina then turns the light into electrical energy. This energy passes through the optic nerve to the brain stem and finally into the occipital lobe, where it is converted into an image.
The Eye's Structures
Cornea - The clear surface of the eye where light rays refract as they pass through to the pupil. Iris - The colored part of the eye that controls the amount of light that passes through the pupil. Pupil - An open space in the center of the iris where light passes through to the lens. Lens - The part of the eye that refracts light to focus it properly on the retina. Retina - The structure at the back of the eye that converts light rays into electrical energy that is transferred to the optic nerve. Optic Nerve - The biological pathway to the brain stem, which forwards electrical energy to the occipital lobe. Occipital Lobe - The part of the brain that converts electrical energy into an image.
Eye Diseases and Refractive Errors
The process described above occurs flawlessly in people with 20/20 vision. However, vision can be impaired when the shape of the eye is irregular or when the light rays do not focus properly on the retina. These flaws are known as refractive errors. Imperfect vision can also occur as a result of various eye diseases.
Almost like a car, the eyes need regular care to ensure that they will continue functioning properly. And as with a car, getting care and maintenance for your eyes can cost a considerable amount of money. Vision insurance helps people with refractive errors - including those who are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism - reduce those expenses and plan for future eye care costs. Many people have questions as to how exactly vision insurance works, such as what it covers and which doctors can be visited once a plan is chosen. Read below to find some answers to these and other questions.
Like dental insurance, vision insurance is a supplement to normal health insurance that covers routine care. Vision insurance plans reduce the cost of routine eye checkups and treatments and help pay for small portions of major eye care procedures. Most plans require the payment of a regular monthly premium and in return offer either reduced-price eye care services (discount vision plans) or coverage for a set number of services per year with only a small copay each visit (vision benefits packages). Either the patient or the employer providing the benefit may pay the premium. Depending on the vision insurance plan and provider, the patient may be restricted to using only certain, plan-affiliated eye care specialists.
How Do I Choose a Vision Insurance Plan?
In many cases, your vision insurance choice will be determined by your employer; many companies contract for eye care plans and offer them to their employees at reduced premiums.
HMO Plans vs. PPO Plans
An HMO plan will often provide the best discounts but will also require that the patient stay within its network of service providers in order to receive coverage. A PPO plan offers more choice: there is still a provider network, but patients may choose outside care providers and have their costs covered to a lesser extent.
Vision Insurance Costs
The cost of vision insurance must be considered. Everyone naturally wants to pay the least amount possible, but a lower price often means a lower quality of service. Generally, the insurance premium is higher when more of the service cost is covered, more service provider options are available, more services are covered, and services may be accessed more often. Finding the right balance between these factors and the price of coverage depends on the needs and budget of the individual.
What Services Do Most Vision Insurance Plans Cover?
Vision insurance usually covers all routine eye care procedures, but not major elective ones. Regular health insurance usually covers necessary treatment for major eye disorders such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Thus, vision insurance is best for people who need routine, regularly scheduled eye exams. Most plans cover these checkups and some of the cost of contact lenses and new eyeglasses, though often just a limited number of times per year.
Major procedures such as LASIK are not considered necessary for visual health and function, so most vision insurance plans do not cover them. Some plans do offer small discounts if a preferred specialist is chosen, but generally this does not amount to a large percentage of the procedure's cost. Cataract surgery, on the other hand, is frequently covered by vision insurance, since this procedure is often necessary to prevent major loss of eyesight or even virtual blindness. Consult your plan documentation to learn which procedures are covered under your particular form of vision insurance.
Contact an Ophthalmologist in Your Area
We encourage you to seek the regular eye care you need for continued vision health today. If you would like to contact ophthalmologists in your area and find out whether your vision insurance plan will cover services at their offices, please take a moment to visit our directory of specialists by region.