You know you’re supposed to have a dental checkup every six months or twice a year, but how often are we supposed to have our eyes checked? The following article will discuss eye exam frequency and what you need to know about the risk factors for eye diseases. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.
The health of our eyes isn’t the same as the health of our mouths, but every part of the body needs good, consistent preventative care. Regardless of whether you need, or think you need, a newer prescription for your corrective lenses, having your eyes checked periodically is always a good idea.
Human eyes are extremely intricate and complex, and there are very many ways something can go wrong with their health or functionality. Having regular eye checks is essential to ensure optimal eye health.
What are regular eye exams?
Regular eye exams are comprehensive checks of eye health and visual acuity. Patient age, and risk factors for certain eye diseases, or certain cardiovascular diseases, will determine the optimal frequency of comprehensive eye checks. It is recommended that children are brought in for their first eye exam at approximately six months, they should have their eyes checked again by their third birthday, and again before they start school. Again, this is whether or not there appear to be any issues with the child’s vision or overall eye health. Having childhood eye examinations is extremely important for identifying and correcting issues with vision before they might have impeded their scholastic efforts.
The majority of adults should have their eyes examined approximately every other year until the age of 60, regardless of whether or not there are issues with vision. Over the age of 60, those visits should increase in frequency — patients should come in every year. Nevertheless, your optometrist and even General Practitioner will tell you what the best strategy for your health would be.
What are some of the risk factors for eye disease?
If you are someone whose vision is at-risk, your eye examinations should be more frequent than the average person’s. However, you might not realize that you even have “at-risk” vision. If you have relatives who have struggled with macular degeneration, glaucoma, or cataracts, you might be at risk for vision problems. Likewise, if you have a family history of diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease.
If you regularly take prescription medications that cause dry eyes, you might be at risk for vision complications. Such side effects must be monitored so that you are not at risk for eye infections. People who wear contact lenses regularly are also at an increased risk of eye infections and eye injury. Smokers are at very high risk of vision and eye health complications. If you smoke, you are at a significantly higher risk for glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.
When is it urgent to see an optometrist?
If you keep to your recommended schedule for eye examinations, you probably won’t have any emergencies, and your regular visits should mitigate your risk factors. However, eye injury might still occur for which you need immediate assistance. Also, if you notice any minor changes in your vision, you should see an optometrist immediately. Please visit your optometrist if you notice any of the following:
- Blurred vision. Having blurry vision might simply mean you need a new corrective lens prescription. Nevertheless, the sooner you have your eyes checked, the sooner you will be able to see clearly.
- Repeated or severe headaches. Having headaches frequently is often a sign of eye strain or eye distress. If you spend a lot of time in front of a screen, whether it’s a computer or TV screen, you might experience digital eye strain. An eye exam can help you effectively manage the symptoms.
- Bright flashes or floaters. If you notice an increase in floaters or if you see bright flashes, this may be a symptom of a detachment of the retina, which must be treated immediately.
- Increased sensitivity to light. This is often a symptom of an eye infection and should be treated as soon as possible.
- Night vision loss. Again, this might be a symptom of an eye infection, but it could also be a signal of deteriorating vision. See your eye doctor immediately.
Prioritize your high exam schedule — it may help you maintain optimal vision, and even optimal health!
OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is pleased to be among Ft. Myers’s most respected optometry specialists, with more than two decades of experience serving the South Florida community. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.