We use our eyesight every day. However, we tend to take it for granted. How can we make sure we care for one of our most valued senses? Regular eye exams are the best way to know we are giving our eyes the care they deserve. Answering the following questions may help you know if it’s time for you to get a checkup on your vision.
Why should you get an eye exam?
Eye exams are a necessary part of healthy eyesight. Not only do they allow early diagnoses of eye conditions, they can also correct any vision delays you may be experiencing. Your vision is constantly changing, even more than you may realize. Eye exams can provide the means to not only keep you safe as you drive or operate machinery but also help you live the fullest life possible.
How long has it been since your last exam?
The amount of time you should wait between eye exams is different for everyone. Those with no prior history of vision problems may only need an eye exam every two years. However, for most, it is recommended you receive an eye exam once a year or more. You may fall under that category if you:
- Currently use contact lenses
- Are over the age of 60
- Have had previous eye injuries or eye surgery
- Work in an occupation that causes eye strain or involves activities such as writing, driving, welding or computer work
- Have diabetes, high blood pressure, eye disease or a family history of these diseases
- Take medicines that have visual side effects
Chances are, it’s time to get an appointment on the calendar. If it’s been over a year since you last had your eyes checked out, or if you fall under one of the categories above, it’s been too long. Talk to your doctor to see how often you should get an eye exam.
Are your eyes sending you a message?
While regular yearly exams are important, you may notice other signs that your eyes are ready for a checkup. Your eyes may be sending you a message to go to the doctor if you:
- Notice you can’t see road signs while driving at night
- Experience itchy, red eyes or discharge
- Suffer from frequent headaches or migraines
- See black spots, flashes of light or little spots that float around your line of vision
- Notice recurrent eye fatigue or discomfort as your move your eyes
- Feel a strong sensitivity to light
- Have a hard time focusing when looking at a single object
- Feel nauseated or dizzy while trying to follow a moving target
- Squint or close one eye to read or hold books at a distance in order to see words clearly
- Are diagnosed with a health condition that could affect your eyes, such as diabetes
Experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or any other conditions you notice that are out of the ordinary, are signals you shouldn’t ignore. Get to a doctor right away so they can correct vision issues and catch any diseases before they get worse.
Do I Really Need an Eye Exam Every Year?
If you have to ask yourself or anyone else this question, odds are you already know the answer. Yes, you REALLY do need to have an eye exam each and every year.
For the same reason the oil in your car needs changing every couple of months to maintain quality, and your teeth need to be cleaned and checked every six months to avoid cavities—yearly eye exams are recommended to maintain healthy vision. Here are five reasons why yearly eye exams are so important.
Prevention, prevention, prevention
Yearly eye exams not only stop vision problems from getting worse but also prevent future vision problems from developing. According to a study conducted by World Health Organization, approximately 80 percent of vision impairment globally is considered avoidable. These yearly eye exams are exactly how eye doctors can prevent vision problems. Even if you feel your eyes are healthy, nearly 90 percent of adults who use a computer at least three hours a day suffer from vision problems associated with computer eye strain, problems that can worsen over time if not checked by an eye doctor.
Vision Changes over time
Vision changes are a normal part of aging, but if these changes are not monitored and taken care of with yearly eye exams, you may be facing unwanted vision problems. The same goes for eyeglass or contact wearers—having vision correctors does not mean that your eye exams should stop or happen less frequently. Similar to individuals without vision correctors, your eyes will change with age, even with glasses or contacts.
It’s not all about your eyes
Eye exams are not only important to prevent vision problems from developing or worsening but to also provide doctors a look into your overall health. Routine eye exams can help doctors detect signs of serious health conditions, like diabetes, brain tumors, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Only by dilating the eyes can doctors detect these serious signs. This is done by looking at the blood vessels, arteries and cranial nerves located in the eyes. This is important because some of the symptoms for these health conditions do not appear until it is too late.
Your prescription may have changed since your last visit
For eyeglass wearers, it is important for you to visit an eye doctor yearly to ensure your prescription is up to date. The eyes change as we age, and with an out-of-date prescription, you risk eye strain and headaches.
Symptomless eye diseases
Common eye diseases like glaucoma develop gradually, showing few or no symptoms, but if left untreated, they can result in vision loss. An eye exam is the only solution to catching this eyesight thief. This is done by assessing eye pressure, the health of the optic nerve and the state of the cornea, things only an eye professional can examine.
There are many reasons why scheduling a yearly eye exam is important. Find an eye doctor near you to schedule a yearly exam before another year has come and gone.