To promote National Eye Exam Month, we’re explaining why you should get a comprehensive eye exam and how often you should visit your eye doctor, whether it’s an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
A comprehensive eye exam is an important health maintenance exam. Eye doctors are usually the first health care professional to detect systemic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, making eye exams important regardless of age or physical health.
Not only do eye exams check the eyes for glasses and contacts, but also for any diseases and problems that could lead to vision loss. Examples of eye diseases and problems include refractive error, amblyopia, strabismus, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.
Eye exams should not be substituted for eye screenings. While eye screenings can help alert you that something is wrong with your vision, a complete eye exam can identify the problem and help recommend a treatment plan. Only an optometrist or ophthalmologist can perform a comprehensive eye exam. (Not sure what the difference is between the two eye doctors? Read here.)
It’s recommended that adults, ages 18-60, undergo a comprehensive eye exam every two years. Seniors, ages 61 and older, should get their eyes examined annually.
“At risk” adults, those who have family history of glaucoma and macular degeneration, or have diabetes and/or high blood pressure, should undergo more frequent eye exams. If you’re not sure how often you should have your eyes checked, ask your eye doctor.