The importance of routine eye exams cannot be stressed enough. Not only do eye exams determine the need for prescription eyewear or laser vision correction, they also play a critical role in the detection and early management of eye diseases. As a result, eye exams can be vision-saving and even life-saving. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recently detailed the story of a teenager who has his eye doctor and a routine eye exam to thank for saving his life. Continue reading to learn about 15-year-old Nick Myers’ story.
Nick, a high school athlete, was getting ready for an upcoming soccer tournament when he realized his contact lens refill had run out. In order to get a refill, he needed a new prescription and therefore an eye exam. But because it was last minute, Nick’s mom Jennifer didn’t have time to make an appointment with Walmart as usual. Instead, she called family friend and eye doctor Dr. Gene Gaddy to see if he could squeeze Nick in for an eye exam. It was during the routine exam that Dr. Gaddy noticed Nick’s vision was 20/25, the first sign that something was not normal. Dr. Gaddy proceeded to conduct a dilated eye exam in order to get a close and detailed view of the eye’s internal structures. That’s when he noticed two tiny hemorrhages on Nick’s retina. Dr. Gaddy then ordered blood tests, which confirmed what he feared was going on: Nick had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Approximately 12 hours after his initial visit with Dr. Gaddy, Nick was rushed to the emergency room and immediately began receiving blood transfusions. Had it not been for the early detection, Nick’s doctors believe the outcome would not have been so good.
Fortunately, three years later, Nick is cancer-free and in remission. Nick was able to graduate from high school with honors and now attends college.
“I don’t want to think what would have happened to Nick if Dr. Gaddy hadn’t seen him that fateful Monday,” Nick’s mom, Jennifer said.
Because eye health and overall health are closely linked, many health conditions including blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers can be detected and diagnosed early through an eye exam. The AAO recommends scheduling a routine eye exam at the following ages:
If you have been delaying your routine eye exam, Dr. Belmont hopes that reading Nick’s story has inspired you to schedule one soon.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Belmont, please call (212) 486-2020 today.