Factors such as age, general health and genetic/environmental concerns all can impact the need and frequency for exams. Your optometrist will tell you at the end of your exam when you should schedule your next visit. In most cases it is best to have annual comprehensive eye examinations.
Comprehensive eye exams are more than just a check up to see if you need glasses or contacts. The doctor also checks neurological function, the pressure in your eye, eye muscle coordination, and retinal health evaluation. As with all medical conditions, the earlier an eye condition is identified, the earlier effective treatment can be administered. Identifying a condition early could have important and marked effects on your quality of life and vision.
Routine eye exams are very important for children as their vision can greatly impact their ability to learn in school. Much of teaching is heavily dependent on visual learning modes, and poor eye health or vision can have an unwanted negative effect on the child.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that children have their first eye exam at 6 months, three years of age, and when starting first grade.
These recommendations change if a child has extenuating risk factors for vision problems. If a child has the below risk factors, it may be wise to have a first eye exam sooner than the 6 month mark:
- If the child was born premature or had low birth weight
- If the mother had an infection during pregnancy, such as rubella, venereal disease, herpes, AIDS, etc
- If the child experienced any developmental delays
- If the child has apparent turned or crossed eyes
- If there is family history of eye disease
- If there the child suffered other illnesses or diseases
Children (6+ years)
When your child starts school, he or she should have an eye exam. If your child has already been diagnosed with vision problems, or if your family has a history of vision problems, having your child’s vision rechecked at this stage is vital. Growing children can develop many quick physical changes, and eyes are no different; a child’s vision can change drastically from year to year, and it is not uncommon for a child with perfect vision to require glasses the following year.
Parental vigilance is the most important element in identifying the need for glasses early. Many times, kids aren’t aware they need glasses or that their vision is changing. If you see your child squinting or adjusting their distance while reading or watching TV, it may be time to schedule an eye exam. Don’t rely on public school vision screenings to catch potential vison problems.
Adults age 18 and older should have exams every one to two years to monitor any further changes to their vision.
If at any time you experience a sudden and acute change to your vision, or if you experience pain, flashes of light, “floaters” or dark spots, or injury/physical trauma to your eyes, it is important to schedule an exam immediately.
At age 40, even if you are in good health, it is recommended to have an eye exam. Most adult vision begins to decline at this point due to aging, and even people with excellent eyesight may begin to need reading glasses.
Factors that result in a recommendation of annual eye exams include a family history of chronic eye disease, diabetes, or if you wear contacts.
If you wear contact lenses, yearly exams help maintain eye health and allow your eye care provider to check for corneal health, curvature of the cornea, any abnormal blood vessel growth due to a lack of oxygen, and other potential eye issues and complications that may come with contacts.