Many people wait until they’re already having vision issues before they take care of their eyesight. At Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, we offer a wide range of optometry services, from eye testing for refractive errors to cataract detection. We believe that the earlier you start getting your eyes checked, the better, as this will help to catch any potential problems early on.
At What Age Should You Start Getting Eye Testing?
We recommend that children have their first eye exam at around six months old. At this age, most babies are able to go through the eye testing process. However, if there is a family history of eye problems, your child may need to be tested earlier.
In general, it is a good idea to have your child’s eyes checked once every one to two years until they reach the age of 18. If you notice any problems with your child’s vision before the next appointment, such as difficulty reading or squinting, be sure to make to schedule a consultation with us as soon as possible.
As we age, our eyesight naturally begins to deteriorate. This is why it’s crucial for adults to get their eyes tested on a regular basis. Depending on your age, health history, and family history, you may need to get your eyes tested more or less often. If you’re under the age of 40 and have no history of eye problems, you should get your eyes tested every two years.
If you’re over the age of 40 or have a family history of eye problems, you should get your eyes tested every one to two years. If you have diabetes or another medical condition that can affect your eyesight, you should get your eyes tested every year. Even if you don’t fall into any of the above categories, it’s always a good idea to get your eyes checked if you notice any changes in your vision.
What Conditions Can Eye Testing Help Detect?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens that makes it harder to see. Clouding occurs when the normally clear lens becomes opaque. Depending on its size and location, a cataract can interfere with your vision to varying degrees.
Cataracts are very common in adults over age 60. In fact, by age 80, over 50% of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. However, as they progress, they may cause blurred or dim vision and eventually lead to complete blindness.
The most common cause of cataracts is aging. As you get older, changes occur in the protein structure of the lens that make it thicken and harden. This protein clumping also prevents light from passing through the lens clearly. Other causes include diabetes, trauma to the eye, certain medications (steroids), smoking, excessive drinking, and prolonged exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays.
Cataracts usually form in both eyes but tend to affect one eye more than the other at first. There’s no sure way to prevent cataracts since they mostly result from aging. However, you can help slow their progression by wearing sunglasses outdoors and quitting smoking if you smoke. You should also have regular comprehensive dilated eye exams so we can monitor your eye health.
In most cases, cataracts aren’t serious enough to threaten your sight and only require monitoring by the doctor during regular eye exams. Once they start interfering with your daily activities such as driving, reading, or making you more vulnerable to falls, it’s time for surgery to remove them. Surgery involves making an incision in your eye to remove the cloudy lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens.
Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease that gradually steals away your vision. It’s the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 60. There are different types of glaucoma, but the most common type is open-angle glaucoma. In open-angle glaucoma, the tension inside your eyes gradually increases. This happens because the eye doesn’t drain fluid as well as it should.
The increased pressure can damage the optic nerve. The first sign of glaucoma is usually peripheral vision loss. You might not notice this right away because it happens slowly over time. As glaucoma progresses, you might see a tunneling effect. This is when your side vision becomes blocked, and you can only see what’s directly in front of you. With early detection and treatment, you can protect your vision and slow down the progression of the disease.
Angle-closure glaucoma is much less common. In angle-closure glaucoma, the iris (the colored part of your eye) bulges forward and blocks the drainage angle between your iris and cornea (the clear front surface of your eye). This sudden blockage prevents fluid from draining properly and causes a rapid build-up of pressure inside your eye.
3. Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is a common and chronic condition that occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or when the tears evaporate quickly. Tears are essential for lubrication and maintaining the health of the cornea. If you suffer from dry eye syndrome, you may experience symptoms such as burning or a gritty sensation in your eyes.
The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can be uncomfortable and can interfere with your daily activities. Fortunately, there are treatments available that can help relieve the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
There are many different factors that can contribute to dry eye syndrome. Common causes include age, menopause, and medications.
As we age, our bodies produce fewer tears. This is why dry eye syndrome is more common in older adults.
Women who are going through menopause are at an increased risk for dry eye syndrome due to hormonal changes that occur during this time.
Certain medications can decrease tear production or quality, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants.
Dry eye syndrome can be a symptom of other medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems, and Sjögren’s syndrome.
Windy or dusty conditions can aggravate dry eyes, as can staring at a computer screen or spending long hours driving.
The most common symptom of dry eye syndrome is a feeling of discomfort or irritation in the eyes. Other symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light
4. Diabetic Eye
The term “diabetic eye disease” describes a group of eye diseases that people with diabetes may face as a complication of the disease. These diseases include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina — the layer of nerve tissue in the back of the eye that senses light and helps send images to the brain.
Non-Proliferative Retinopathy (NPDR)
This is the early stage of the disease when blood vessels in the retina begin to swell and leak fluid.
This is the more serious stage of the disease when new blood vessels grow on the retina’s surface. These new blood vessels are very fragile and can bleed easily, which can lead to temporary vision loss or permanent blindness.
The good news is that diabetic retinopathy can be detected early through a comprehensive dilated eye exam and treated before it causes serious damage. If you have diabetes, it’s crucial to visit us for eye testing at least once a year.
5. Refractive Errors
Refractive error is a problem with how the eye focuses light. If you have a refractive error, you may see objects as blurry. Common types of refractive errors include myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. These errors can be diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam.
During the exam, we will ask you to read from an eye chart to measure how well you can see at different distances. We will also use a device called a phoropter to test different lens strengths and find the one that gives you the clearest vision. In some cases, glasses or contact lenses may be all that is needed to correct your vision.
Don’t Ignore Your Vision!
Depending on your age, health, and family history, you should have an eye test at least once every one to two years. At our office, we offer a wide range of eye testing services to ensure that your eyes are healthy and functioning properly. Whether you are due for a routine check-up or are experiencing vision problems, contact us today at Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, and we’ll provide you with the care you need.