What We Do
The NLAO is the professional association that represents Doctors of Optometry in Newfoundland and Labrador. Our mission is to foster excellence in the delivery of vision and eye health services through information, programs, and services that promote and enhance optometric care.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Optometrists (NLAO) works on the behalf of optometrists in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. For our members, we offer support, access to a local and national network, training opportunities, and advocacy on behalf of the profession.
Comprehensive Eye Care
Brain Injuries and Neurological Conditions
The optic nerve in the eye is essentially an extension of the brain. Any neurological condition that affects nerve cells including Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis can be detected with an eye exam. The muscles responsible for eye movement are supplied with nerve cells that are controlled by certain parts of the brain. Mental health conditions and brain injuries, including strokes, may affect the parts of the brain that control eye coordination and tracking. A comprehensive eye exam can detect problems with eye movement, and vision training can improve the ability of the eyes to track and work together.
High Blood Pressure
A doctor of optometry may be the first healthcare professional to detect high blood pressure through a comprehensive eye exam. The fine blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye can help identify risks of a stroke or heart attack before they occur. Eye health can often signal the presence and state of serious medical conditions, such as hypertension, which is a leading cause of a heart attack, stroke, and chronic heart failure. What’s more, the information obtained through an eye exam can help healthcare providers treat patients preventively to decrease the risks of cardiovascular disease.
A comprehensive eye exam includes tests of peripheral vision and eye muscle function that can often be the first line of detection of a brain tumor. Brain tumors, depending on their location in the brain, can cause loss of peripheral vision or can damage the nerves that supply the muscles of the eyes resulting in abnormal eye movements, double vision, or other changes in vision. A comprehensive eye exam can also identify unusual structures and growths within the eye. The eye and its surrounding tissues are one of the most common areas of the body where skin cancer is first diagnosed. Skin cancer can be detected through an eye exam, as lesions called basal cell carcinomas can show up on the eyelid.
As many as one million Canadians are living with undiagnosed diabetes. Optometrists sometimes see indicators of diabetes in the eyes before the disease is formally diagnosed because diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye). Catching diabetes early by comprehensive eye exam can also reduce the risk of diabetes-related vision loss and other life-threatening complications like heart disease and kidney failure.
Only an Eye Doctor can conduct a comprehensive eye exam. A vision screening is not an eye exam.
Vision screenings only check vision. These tests usually use automated equipment and the accuracy and effectiveness of the eyeglass prescription generated is limited.
During an eye exam, your doctor of optometry evaluates both the internal and external health of your eyes. As many common eye diseases have no early symptoms, your health depends on knowing the difference.
Your doctor of optometry examines the tissues and structures inside the eye, looking for eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration, as well as tears in the retina, bleeding and tumours. They also look for early signs of serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Even when accessing sophisticated vision screening tools, highly trained screeners can miss up to one-third of children with eye or vision disorders. Plus, it’s not uncommon for parents to believe they would know if their child has a vision problem, because these issues can be hard to spot particularly if there is a problem in only one of the eyes. And, children often don’t know they have a vision problem as they believe what they are seeing is normal.
Part of your doctor of optometry’s job is to help you with an appropriate treatment plan, if necessary. This can include glasses, contact lenses, eye exercises, medical treatment for an eye disease, or possibly a referral for surgery to correct muscle problems. Eye health is complex and deserves the attention of an expert.