The importance of annual eye exams is critical because numerous medical conditions can be identified with an eye exam.

For example, diabetes can be detected on an eye exam where your ophthalmologist or optometrist dilates your eyes.

A dilated eye exam, although it seems inconvenient to the patient, is very important for the doctor to view the retina, which is the part of the eye affected in diabetes, leading to potential blurred vision and blindness from swelling and bleeding.

If the diabetes is detected earlier, treatments are available to prevent blindness.

Numerous other conditions can be detected by an eye exam from sleep apnea and cancer to high blood pressure. For instance, sleep apnea can lead to premature death and is associated with floppy eyelid syndrome (FES).

Dr. Robert Melendez

FES is characterized by an increased laxity of the eyelids, causing redness and dryness of the eyes because the eyelids do not close completely.

Breast cancer, among other types of cancers, can spread to the eye, albeit rarely. Identifying an unusual mass or colored lesion on the iris or in other parts of the eye could signify cancer.

Another concerning type of cancer of the eye is melanoma. If you have a family history of this skin cancer or have a personal history of melanoma on your skin, then this warrants a complete eye exam.

A complete eye exam tests eight major areas, one of which requires dilating the pupil to examine the structures in the back of the eye completely.

Schedule your annual dilated eye exam with your ophthalmologist or optometrist today.

(Dr. Robert F. Melendez is CEO and founder of Juliette Eye Institute, and performs LASIK and cataract surgery. He lives in Corrales.)