How Often Should I Get Eye Exams?
Your dentist has probably told you to get a cleaning and exam every six months, but how often should we get eye exams?
Preventative care is as important for eye health as for dental health, even when you don’t need a new glasses or contact lens prescription. Our eyes are incredibly complex and there are many ways for something to go wrong with them. By getting regular eye appointments, we ensure that any problems are caught early, which is the best time to catch them.
What is a “Regular” Eye Exam for You?
Your ideal eye exam schedule depends on your age and your risk factors. We recommend that children get their first eye exam around six months of age, then come back again around their third birthday, and again before starting first grade. These eye exams in early childhood are important for catching, diagnosing, and treating the kinds of vision problems that can greatly interfere with learning but are often overlooked (including by the school nurse).
For most people older than that, an eye exam once every two years until age 60 is great. Beyond age 60, we’d like to see you every year. Some cases are different, however, and more frequent appointments are necessary.
What Are the Risk Factors for Eye Disease?
One risk factor is a family history of an eye disease like glaucoma or macular degeneration, or even a family history of diabetes or hypertension. Others include prescription medications that cause dry eye as a side effect. Keep track of side effects like this to make sure they don’t develop into eye infections or major discomfort.
Another major risk factor, and one that can be controlled, is a smoking habit. Smoking dramatically increases the risk of eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration. UV exposure is another one, and the best way to control it is by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses (and adding a wide-brimmed hat doesn’t hurt) outside or while driving during the day.
If a Problem Arises Between Regular Appointments…
It’s good to stick to the recommended eye exam schedule if you aren’t experiencing any other problems with your vision or eye health, but if an issue pops up when the next appointment is months or a year away, don’t wait to come see us. Any of the following symptoms is a good reason to come in early:
- Newfound light sensitivity, which could indicate an eye infection.
- Loss of night vision or difficulty driving at night, which can be a sign of vision loss.
- Blurry vision, which could mean something as simple as needing a new prescription. Even so, why put off seeing clearly again?
- Frequent headaches, which are connected to eye problems in many cases, such as with digital eye strain.
- Bright flashes, loss of peripheral vision, or a sudden increase in floaters, which are symptoms of retinal detachment. This can result in permanent blindness if it isn’t treated right away.
We Look Forward to Seeing You!
It can be easy to forget an appointment that only comes along every other year, but we encourage our patients to prioritize the eye exam schedule we recommend. If the problem is that you don’t remember when your last appointment was, just start your schedule fresh by scheduling your next appointment now! You’ll be doing your eye health a lot of good.