Your vision is very important, so regular checks with an optometrist can ensure that your eyes are healthy. But how often do you need an optometry appointment? At Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, we can help you maintain a regular schedule for all of your preventative care needs, from general health to specialties like eye doctors.
Optometry: How Often Should You Get an Eye Exam?
The frequency of your eye exams will generally depend on your age. This is partly because your vision changes at different rates during your lifetime and partly because even people with perfect vision need occasional eye exams.
Infants and toddlers can have eye exams as early as six months of age. Children between the ages of three and 18 should have an eye exam once a year to once every two years. People aged 20 to 39 should have an exam every five years, while people aged 40 to 54 should have an exam every two to four years. People who are 55 or older should have an exam every one to three years.
When Do You Need Exams More Frequently?
There are certain circumstances when you may need eye exams more frequently. Some eye conditions have a higher risk level to your vision, which means you may need an optometry exam more frequently to keep an eye on further vision or eye health deterioration. For example, monitoring glaucoma, cataracts, or other conditions may require yearly exams. Your optometrist will tell you about the ideal frequency for your eye exams.
Do You Need Eye Exams Even With Perfect Vision?
Even if you have perfect vision, it’s still important to have regular eye exams. There may be different aspects of your health that may affect the quality of your vision over time – and sometimes, an eye exam can be the first early detection of certain health conditions. For example, people who are at risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes may see changes in vision before other symptoms.
Additionally, just because you have 20/20 vision now doesn’t mean your vision will be perfect forever. Some lifestyle factors, such as exposure to blue light from technology, can cause vision to slowly deteriorate over time. Genetics can also result in poor vision as you age, which is why some people may need reading glasses as they get older. Regular eye exams are the key to preventative medicine.
What Can You Expect From Your Eye Exam?
When you visit an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, you will likely have a comprehensive eye exam. During a comprehensive exam, your eye doctor will ask about any recent changes in vision you have had, your family medical history, and whether or not you have previously been diagnosed with any eye diseases or vision impairments.
Several tests will be used during a comprehensive eye exam, including the most basic eye chart reading. Some tests will check your peripheral vision, your 3D vision, and your color perception. Other tests will examine your pupil dilation, your eye muscles, and even your eye pressure, all of which can be indicators for eye diseases.
Will Machines Be Used?
It’s common for machines to be used during your eye exam, even if you aren’t being fitted for glasses. For example, sometimes a special machine is used to shine a light into your eye while the eye doctor uses a viewing device to look for signs of cataracts. The machines used for your eye exams are commonly used for the detection of eye diseases and diagnosis.
Will These Exams Be Comfortable?
Although it may be a bit disarming to have someone look very closely at your eyes, you can rest assured that your eye exams will be comfortable. Even for eye pressure tests, it’s very common to prep your eyes for your exams with temporary numbing eye drops. Sometimes other eye drops that dilate the eyes are also used to ease your eye exams.
How Are Your Eye Exams Different If You Wear Glasses?
If you wear glasses, then your eye exams will generally have a few more steps. In addition to assessing the health and function of your eyes, your eye exam will also focus on the quality of your vision. If you already wear glasses, then some of your tests will be completed while you wear your corrective lenses to assess whether or not you need a new lens prescription.
If your eye doctor does think that your vision has changed, then you will likely need to have an additional appointment to correct your prescription. Sometimes these appointments can happen on the same day as your comprehensive eye exam. During these appointments, your eye doctor will use a machine that offers different lens strengths to find the lens that most closely helps you achieve perfect vision.
Why Is 20/20 Vision Important?
Our eyes are a huge factor in our overall health and well-being. Having perfect vision or 20/20 vision means that the structure of your eye correctly bends light so that you can see objects clearly several feet away and very close up. When your vision is imperfect or impaired, the difficulties can make daily functioning hard, inconvenient, or sometimes even dangerous.
For example, in school, those who can’t see the board will have trouble understanding an assignment. Similarly, people who have impaired vision may not be able to see enough to drive safely or complete other tasks. Having vision that is as close to 20/20 as possible will ensure that you can enjoy good daily functioning.
How Should You Prepare for Your Eye Exam?
In general, you can expect a comprehensive eye exam to take about 30 to 60 minutes to complete depending on whether or not you have any risk factors for eye disease or any current diagnosis for eye diseases and impairments. Because it’s likely your appointment will require the use of dilating eye drops, you may want to arrange for transportation after your exam or bring sunglasses to protect your eyes while the eye drops wear off.
For your eye exam, you should bring any lens prescriptions you may have, including contact lenses, reading glasses, or prescription lenses. You should also bring a list of any medications you are currently taking and be prepared to answer questions about family history for eye diseases such as macular degeneration.
What Other Eye Exams Are Available?
In addition to a comprehensive eye exam, there are other exams your optometrist may recommend for you. For example, diabetic eye exams look at specific eye health risks people with diabetes may be vulnerable to. You can also request cataract eye exams, glaucoma eye exams, and other ocular disease eye exams.
Of course, eye exams are only a small part of maintaining your eye health. Optometry services can also treat various eye health concerns, including dry eye syndrome, pink eye, and eye injuries. Optometry services include other optical exams, such as evaluating vision for prescription glasses and contact lenses.
Who Are Good Candidates?
Even if you don’t feel like you have any current eye health concerns, you are still a good candidate for optometry services. People of all ages should consider regular comprehensive eye exams or other eye exams related to health risks you may have. You should also seek eye exams when you have an eye health concern, such as an eye infection, dry eyes, watery eyes, or other symptoms.
It’s best to not wait to have an eye exam. When you have regular eye exams, you can detect early changes in your vision that can prevent further disease progression or slow down vision deterioration. After all, when you wear your glasses or contact lenses more frequently, your vision will change more slowly.
What If You Need or Want Eye Surgery?
Some people may need or want corrective eye surgery. For example, older people may need surgery to remove cataracts, while others may want to have LASIK to correct their vision. For people who are interested in eye surgery, an exam will be necessary before any surgery can be scheduled or before your optometrist can refer you to an eye surgeon.
Monitor Your Eye Health
We need our eyes to be healthy and our vision to be accurate to function well. From very young children to older adults, frequent eye exams are the best strategy to ensure the health of your eyes. Please contact Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA to schedule your eye exam with our optometry experts today.