Do I Really Need An Eye Exam?

June 26, 2014

How often should you have an eye exam?

It is a real shame when a patient comes to the office for a 'first exam' and already has damage to their vision. Many eye problems that can lead to damage or loss of vision can be slowed down, or even prevented if caught early enough. So the real key is to inform people about when to start, and how often to repeat eye exams. Luckily, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has standards for adult eye exams.

For adults, it is recommended that patients over 40 receive eye exams every 2 years. After 50, yearly exams are necessary. While some people wonder if that frequency of exams is necessary, we know that certain disease states will progress significantly in that amount of time. In fact, once a patient is diagnosed with glaucoma, they must be examined every 3 MONTHS!!

Glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration all begin to show up when patients are in their 40's and 50's. This is why the yearly exams are a must. I have 2 patients in my practice that never needed glasses until they were in their 40's. At that time, they began to need reading glasses, so they bought them at the local dollar store. Fast-forward 25 years. On a whim, these patients decided to come for an actual eye exam. They were unpleasantly surprised to find that they had lost 80-90% of their vision to glaucoma!! An entirely preventable/treatable disease, that went undetected due to lack of routine eye exams.

And for the eye exam before the age of 6 is best. School screenings are fairly good, but sometimes subtle problems that can become larger issues can be missed. And the window of opportunity to fix those problems closes around the age 0f 8 or 9. If everything is normal, then exams every 3 to 5 years is probably acceptable. AND adults need regular eye exams!! Call your ophthalmologist today!!

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