If you don’t remember when you last had an eye exam, it may be an indication that you are passing up the best opportunity you have to protect your eyesight. A thorough examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist is the only way to be sure your eyes are healthy. Many sight-threatening eye diseases, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, show no noticeable symptoms in their early stages, which is when the appropriate treatment would be most successful. So even if you are not having problems with your vision, regularly scheduled eye exams are crucial for detecting and managing problems before they lead to vision loss.
Did You Know?
The eye is the only place in the body through which blood vessels can be directly visualized. This means that your eye doctor has a window into your overall health in addition to your eye health. During a comprehensive eye examination, he or she can see signs of chronic conditions that affect the entire body, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
An Eye Exam is Essential Throughout Our Lives
From infancy through retirement age and beyond, eye exams are essential for safeguarding eyesight and overall well-being. Early in life, vision is directly related to learning and cognitive and social development. As we age, especially as we near age 60-65, the probability that our eyes will develop potentially harmful diseases and conditions is greatly increased. For example, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), more than half of all Americans will develop a cataract by the time they are 80. Delaying diagnosis and treatment of cataracts can lead to irreversible damage to vision. Also, cataract-related vision loss is associated with a higher prevalence of chronic health conditions, falls, injuries, depression, and social isolation.
Guidelines for an Eye Exam
Several medical organizations, including the AAO and the American Optometric Association (AOA), have established guidelines for how often people of different ages and levels of risk should have an eye exam. The complete guidelines are readily available on the groups’ website.
Key messages in the guidelines include:
- Senior citizens should have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every year or two.
- Seniors and adults of any age who have diabetes or a family history of any eye disease should talk to an eye doctor about how frequently to schedule exams.
- People who wear contact lenses should have their eyes examined annually.
- No matter what your age or eye health status, if you notice any changes in your vision between your regularly scheduled exams you should contact an eye doctor.
Finally, it’s important to understand that a vision screening, such as might be provided for children at school or for adults at a community health event, is not the same as a comprehensive eye exam. A comprehensive exam involves an evaluation of all of your eye’s structures and whether they are all working together properly. It also requires that your pupil be dilated with drops so the doctor can see all the way to the back of the eye to the retina.
Call (866) 742-6581 or visit the patient portal to schedule your eye exam.