The Benefits of Eye Exams and Regularly Seeing Your Eye Doctor

Date: 2018-09-30

Even if you just recently completed a basic vision screening, reading back an eye chart is no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam with a board-certified ophthalmologist or optometrist.

While vision screenings can indicate that your vision may have problems, this type of test fails to diagnose the cause your vision impairment. Even if you have perfect vision, many common eye problems don’t immediately present symptoms.

Eighty percent vision problems are avoidable and many are even curable. Don’t wait until it’s too late to take care of your eyes!

How Often Do You Need an Eye Exam?

Comprehensive eye exams should occur early and often. Below are some general rules-of-thumb:

  • Infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age.
  • Children then should receive additional eye exams at 3 years of age, and just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade at about age 5 or 6, unless the doctor recommends more frequent visits.
  • After the age of 6, children should receive annual comprehensive eye exams through adulthood.

Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition, since some are hereditary. More at-risk individuals should be tested more often.

What Is a Comprehensive Eye Exam?

A comprehensive eye exam may take between 30-60 minutes and may include the following components:

  • Dilated eye examination: Through use of special lenses, your doctor will look inside your eyes to examine the conditions of your nerve. Special eye drops may also be used to evaluate the retina and optic nerves
  • Refraction testing: This helps determine the sharpness of your near and farsightedness (how far you can see clearly).
  • Visual Field Testing: This is used to evaluate the performance of your peripheral vision.
  • A Conversation About Your Health, Medication & Vision History: Certain medications, genetics or other conditions may impact your vision. Your doctor may ask you about your last eye exam, if you have noticed any recent problems and about what has triggered them.

Signs You Need to See Your Eye Doctor Immediately

Some vision concerns can’t wait for an annual examination.

Remember, many common eye diseases, such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, often have no warning signs. Immediately visit your eye doctor if you have:

  • Floaters (tiny specks that appear to float before your eyes)
  • Circles (halos) around light sources
  • Decreased vision
  • Eye pain
  • Double vision
  • Drainage or redness of the eye
  • If you see flashes of light