Routine Eye Exams
You’re an adult with good vision who hasn’t had an eye exam in many years. You turn 45 and buy drugstore glasses to help you read. When they aren’t as effective as you’d like, you schedule an eye exam, only to find out that you have glaucoma and have already lost some peripheral vision. This happens frequently and is avoidable. Everyone should have regular eye exams, regardless of whether or not they wear glasses.
Regular eye exams are an important part of preventive health care. Many eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration cause no symptoms in the beginning of their course, but early intervention can prevent vision loss. Additionally, systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes may manifest themselves in the eye. Even subtle changes in refractive error (prescription) can improve vision and quality of life. For children, eye examinations can uncover problems that may lead to poor school performance.
All children should have their first eye exam no later than age 5, but much sooner if any problems are noted, or if there is a family history of childhood-onset eye problems. Children who wear vision correction (glasses and/or contact lenses) need to have their eyes examined at least every year because the eyes (and therefore the prescription) can change frequently as the child grows.
How frequently a person requires eye examinations depends on different factors. In general, people who have a family member with eye disease or who have medical problems like diabetes or high blood pressure need to be seen more frequently than people who don’t. Contact lens wearers should be examined at least yearly, and users of certain medications may also need more frequent examinations.