How often should you get an eye exam? Well, that depends on things like your age, medical history and whether you currently wear prescription glasses or contact lenses.
Eye exams aren’t just for correcting vision problems. They can help evaluate the overall health of your eyes and understand how well they work now as well as potential issues you may have in the future.
Children who do not wear glasses or contacts should have their eyes checked every 2 years unless you begin to notice potential signs of eye strain like frequent blinking, rubbing of the eyes, or complaints of headaches or fatigue. Children who wear corrective lenses will need an eye exam every 6 months to a year to make sure the prescription remains accurate.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), early childhood exams are essential for ensuring normal visual development. Roughly 80% of what a child learns prior to age 13 is presented visually, so good vision is crucial for learning. Regular eye exams can help correct any vision problems that might affect academic performance when they are old enough for school.
Most optometrists and ophthalmologists recommend complete eye exams at least once every 2-3 years for adults who do not wear prescription glasses or contacts. Adults who do wear prescription glasses should have an eye exam at least every 2 years to assess the health of their eyes and confirm their prescription. Adults who wear contact lenses should have an annual eye exam to assess the health of their eyes and confirm the fit, comfort and prescription.
Adults aged 40 and up are prone to health conditions that contribute to vision loss like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or other side effects related to prescription medications. For this reason, annual eye exams are recommended whether they need corrective lenses or not.
Adults aged 65 and up are prone to cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, so annual eye exams are essential for eye health and preventing vision loss.
Why are eye exams important?
The importance of eye exams extends far beyond just making sure you can see clearly. Eyes are the window to the body so regular eye exams are essential for safeguarding your overall health and wellness. Here are five reasons why eye exams are important:
- They help your child succeed in school.
An annual eye exam is the only way to ensure your child is seeing clearly and comfortably at school and during extracurricular activities.
- Myopia is becoming an epidemic.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the second most common cause of global blindness in the United States. It is associated with an increased risk of retinal complications, cataracts and glaucoma.
- School vision screenings are not comprehensive.
While vision screenings can help identify serious problems a person might have with specific visual tasks (e.g., seeing the chalkboard clearly), only a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist can ensure your vision is as clear and comfortable as possible. It can also detect any potentially serious eye diseases that do not have early symptoms like glaucoma or eye cancer.
- Glaucoma does not have any symptoms.
Early detection and treatment of high eye pressure or thin corneas are only possible through regular eye exams. If left undetected and untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
- They can detect other serious health problems.
During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor will evaluate the health and condition of the blood vessels in the retina (light-sensitive cells in the back of the eye), which are good indicators of the health of your blood vessels throughout your body. Regular eye exams are particularly important for anyone with diabetes or for those who are at risk for the disease. Diabetic eye disease has no visible symptoms and is the leading cause of blindness in adults.
Routine eye exam vs. comprehensive eye exam
A routine eye exam is the type of appointment you make when you need an updated prescription for your glasses.
A comprehensive eye exam, on the other hand, is an essential part of caring for your eyes, vision and overall health. Not only will this exam help your eyes see clearly with a glasses or contact lens prescription, but it will also help identify other eye and health conditions that may not have obvious symptoms. A comprehensive eye exam may include the following tests:
- Medical history
This may include questions about your or your immediate family’s eye health. It will also need to confirm current medications as well as any work-related or environmental conditions that may be affecting your vision.
- Visual acuity
This test uses a basic reading chart to determine how clearly each eye is seeing.
- Preliminary tests
Depending on your unique situation or concerns, your doctor may evaluate your depth perception, color vision, eye muscle movements, peripheral vision and the way your pupils respond to light.
This test measures the curvature of the cornea (clear outer surface of the eye) and is especially important for determining whether you have an astigmatism as well as fitting contact lenses.
This test helps determine the lens power needed to help you see clearly.
- Eye focusing, eye teaming and eye movement testing
This test determines how well your eyes focus, move and work together.
No matter your age, a comprehensive eye exam can help with the early detection of eye conditions and diseases that can be treated if caught early enough. If it’s been more than a year since you’ve had your eyes checked, it’s time to schedule a state-of-the-art eye exam with Eye Specialists of Louisiana. Call 225-768-7777 to find out how we can help you see better, keep your eyes healthy and help diagnose chronic or systemic diseases.