Most people put off going to the eye doctor until they need new prescription eyewear. This is a mistake because comprehensive eye exams can help you catch and treat potentially serious problems early on. And many eye diseases, like glaucoma or macular degeneration, don’t show any symptoms in the early stages.
Your eyes can also reveal a lot about your overall health. Many people have other health conditions, like high blood pressure or an autoimmune disorder, but they don’t realize it until their yearly eye exam. That’s why you should always take sudden vision changes very seriously.
Here are five eye symptoms you should never ignore:
You have probably experienced floaters at some point. They are those little squiggles that suddenly appear in your field of vision. While the occasional floater is normal, you should contact your doctor if you have a sudden increase in floaters. You should also contact your doctor if you suddenly experience floaters along with flashes of light. This could be a sign of a retinal tear, which could result in retinal detachment.
Sudden, unexplained eye pain is always a cause for concern. This could be a sign of undiagnosed glaucoma or inflammation in the eyes. And if you do start experiencing eye pain, don’t try to treat the pain yourself. Don’t attempt to rinse your eyes or apply pressure because this could just make things worse.
Sometimes vision changes are far less dramatic. Often, patients will simply start to notice that something seems off. Their vision doesn’t seem to be quite as good as it used to be but they aren’t sure why. If you begin noticing that your vision seems blurry or hazy, like you are looking through a piece of glass, you should schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. This could be a sign of cataracts.
Sometimes experiencing redness is your eyes is pretty harmless — it could be the result of allergies or simply a late night out with friends. However, if you wear contacts regularly and your eyes suddenly become red, watery, and painful, contact your doctor immediately. This could be a sign of a serious eye infection.
Double vision should never be ignored. If your double vision is limited to one eye, this could indicate a corneal problem. But if it’s in both eyes, this could be a sign of a neurological problem. And if your double vision is accompanied by slurred speech or pain, you should go to an emergency room immediately.
The best way to treat vision problems is by managing them proactively! If you are overdue for your vision exam, schedule one right away.
This post originally appeared on Washington Eye.