It isn’t uncommon for many people to only get an eye exam when they notice changes in their vision. Even if you believe that your eyes are in good shape or have been informed in the past that you have 20/20 vision, you still need to see a specialist regularly. How often you need to see your optometrist depends on several factors, including age, your overall health, existing eye condition and family history.
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This May, we are celebrating Healthy Vision Month. This month is all about encouraging everyone to take better care of their eye health. One of the best things you can do for your vision is to get regular eye exams. Continue reading to find out why.
Why Should You See Your Eye Doctor Regularly?
To Know if You Need Vision Correction
It’s a common misconception that you don’t need to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses because you see clearly. If you need to squint often to read smaller text or see far away objects, it could be an indication you need vision correction. Poor vision can pose a safety hazard for you and your family. It can make your daily tasks – such as driving, cooking and even walking outside – dangerous.
Four of the most common refractive errors include nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. Myopia or nearsightedness is when you experience difficulty seeing objects at a distance. Also known as hyperopia, farsightedness causes a person to see near objects blurry. If you have astigmatism, you will find both near and far objects distorted or blurry. Presbyopia is more common in older adults, and it causes people to have trouble seeing things up close.
Blurred vision is the most typical sign you have a refractive error. However, you may also experience hazy or double vision, frequent squinting, constant headaches and eye strain. Some individuals see a halo around bright lights and have difficulty reading or staring at digital screens. Moreover, regular eye exams can help detect refractive errors early in children and adults.
To Ensure You’re Wearing the Right Prescription
Only an eye doctor can trace the slightest change in your vision. Regular eye exam appointments can help ensure you’re wearing the proper eyeglass or contact lens prescription. Many believe that they only need to see their optometrist if they think they need new eyeglasses. Unfortunately, for some, this means every couple of years.
Have you been having headaches a lot lately? It could be that you have undetected nearsightedness or need a prescription update. Your eyeglass frame could also be what’s causing the issue. The temples could be too tight, which could cause headaches. If this is the case, have your glasses adjusted by your optician.
Other common signs you must replace your glasses are blurry and double vision. Constant squinting when reading or using the computer means you might need a new prescription. If your eyewear has any form of damage, such as a broken frame or cracked lenses, you definitely have to replace them. How long has it been since you saw an eye care specialist? You likely need a new prescription if it’s been years since you last got an eye exam.
To Stay on Track of Your Eye Health
Being among the most vital parts of your body, it’s just right that you take good care of your eyes. Routine eye exams can help with the early detection and treatment of different eye conditions. Many of these are vision-threatening and don’t have early symptoms. For instance, you might not even know you have glaucoma until it is in its later stages.
It’s never a good idea to wait too long between eye exams. Macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy are some of the other eye diseases that your specialist can diagnose through regular appointments. Early diagnosis and treatment of these diseases are essential in preventing significant and permanent vision loss.
To Spot Other Health Issues
Besides eye conditions, regular eye exams can also help detect non-eye-related health concerns. For instance, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and diabetes can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam. Your eye doctor will assess the blood vessels in your retina, indicating the overall health of all of your body’s blood vessels.
It’s even more important to schedule regular eye exams if you have existing medical conditions, light hypertension and diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. This common eye disease occurs when high blood sugar harms the retina’s blood vessels.
To Avoid Learning and Developmental Delays in Children
Routine eye exams are just as important in children as it is in adults. Younger individuals need good vision to excel in school, sports and other activities they love. Eye doctors have the appropriate tools and training to evaluate a child’s vision and eye health.
Children need good visual acuity at all distances and good eye coordination and movement for optimal learning. Eye problems can hinder their academic performance and even put their safety at risk. Often, younger children may not even be aware that something is wrong with their eyes until they see an eye specialist. Consult an eye doctor immediately if you believe that your child is experiencing symptoms of developmental delay or they are having trouble naming letters, numbers, colors or shapes. Sometimes, developmental delays are signs of an eye condition.
How Often Do You Need to See an Eye Doctor?
Your ideal eye examination schedule depends on different factors. Eye doctors recommend having a child’s eye tested as early as six months. Your little one should go for another eye doctor visit before kindergarten or first grade. Ideally, your child should see an eye doctor every two years and every six months if they wear eyeglasses.
If your child has been going on about having headaches or keeps on rubbing their eyes, their vision could be compromised. Winking an eye or squinting to see clearly, tilting their head from side to side and holding reading materials too close to their face are common signs of a vision problem. It’s the same if they keep forgetting what they just read or have a poor attention span in school. Kids usually lose interest in what’s written on the board or projected on screen if they can’t view what’s written on them.
Moreover, children born prematurely, with a family history of eye disease or with developmental delays need to see an eye doctor more often. It’s the same for children with mothers who had infections, such as herpes, chickenpox, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Usually, adults over the age of 20 need to get an eye exam every 2 to 3 years. Individuals aged 39 and below are not as likely to experience significant vision loss. However, certain ethnic groups, people with existing medical conditions and those with a family history of eye disease should see a specialist more frequently. You also need to visit your eye doctor more if you wear eyeglasses and contact lenses, have previously undergone eye surgery or had an eye injury, and are taking medications that have eye-and-vision-related side effects.
Expect your eyes to go through many changes between the ages of 40 and 64. You might experience more frequent prescription changes and reduced vision at this phase of your life. It’s because the lens of the eye gradually hardens from around the age of 35. You will also become more vulnerable to health conditions that can lead to vision loss, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Experts strongly suggest getting an eye exam yearly for individuals 65 and older. Seniors are more prone to developing progressing presbyopia, cataracts and eye conditions that result from medical conditions.