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This post was most recently updated on August 13th, 2021
Working in the optical field for over 10 years I noticed that there are people that come in for their eye exams annually, some people that come in for their eye exams every two years, and then there are those people that wait 3 years or more to come back for their eye exam.
Most people understand how important it is to get their teeth checked by the dentist every 6 months and a physical with your doctor every year, but eye exams are generally low on their list of priorities.
Some people think that an eye exam is only for people that have bad vision. That is further from the truth than ever. Many people don’t even know how often they are supposed to get an eye exam.
How often should you get an eye exam?
Whenever you get your routine eye exam your doctor not only checks your vision, but they also run a variety of test that checks your overall eye health. These checks will look for and make sure you are not having any eye disorders, many of which do not give warning signs.
My doctor at the office that I worked that even had this fancy machine that could take a photo of the back of your retina. From this photo, the doctor would be able to look at the blood vessels in your eye and he would be able to tell if you had high cholesterol, or high blood pressure just by looking at the blood vessels in the back of your eyes, how cool right? More on that later.
One time the other doctor that worked there had a patient that got the retinal photo done and she noticed blood build up in the back of the eye in the photos. This person was immediately taken to the emergency room and the doctor’s there said that could have been life-threatening if it wasn’t caught in time, and this patient was in NO pain or noticed anything out of the ordinary.
So you see why it’s important to have a routine eye exam done regularly? Some of the things that can be discovered can be life-saving. Other times you may catch early signs of something else such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and sometimes before your primary care doctor.
So, how often should you visit your eye doctor?
How long the eyeglass prescription lasts before it expires can vary depending on where you are from, but it is recommended that you should get a routine eye exam at the very least once every two years.
If you are a contact lens wearer, the timeframe may be different. Here in California, the prescriptions are only written out for a year, so you have to get an annual eye exam to keep your contact lens prescription current.
Children should have an eye exam at the very minimum once every year. Your eye doctor might let you know if they would like to see your child more than once a year if he feels like the child’s eye needs more monitoring, or if your child’s prescription changes more often than usual.
Even if your eyes are perfect having a routine eye exam is really important. Besides the tests that are normally done during your eye exam, eye doctors can also see a number of other hidden health concerns as well.
What Can Eye Doctors See?
Aside from everything related to your eyes, eye doctors may be able to detect other hidden health concerns that you might not have known you had. Some of the things that could be detected during your routine eye exam include but isn’t limited to:
- High Cholesterol – Whenever you have high cholesterol the blood vessels in your eye could have plaque built up around it. I had the opportunity to see a retinal photo of someone that had high cholesterol and the blood vessels literally looked like they had a plaque on it.
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) – People with high blood pressure may show signs of bends, tears, or breaks in their blood vessels in their eye.
- Diabetes – Many people have pre-diabetes and many don’t know. Getting a routine eye exam could detect pre-diabetes and help you get a jump start on preventing more damage.
These are only a few of the hidden health concerns that a routine eye exam could detect. Other things like autoimmune disorders, tumors, and even cancer could be detected through an eye exam with your eye doctor.
Signs You Might Need to See the Eye Doctor
Over the course of 10 years working in the optical field, I am appalled by the number of people that have NEVER in their life had an eye exam. Your vision can change over the course of your life, even during the course of a year so its good to make it a habit to get to the eye doctors.
If you have never been to the eye doctor before there are some warning signs that you might need to go:
- Headaches – This is a good sign that you might need to get your eyes checked out. This is especially true if you work in front of a computer for extended periods of time.
- Eye Irritation – If you notice your eyes are red, itchy, sensitive to light, or have discharge coming out of your eyes these are all good indicators that a visit to the eye doctor is warranted.
- Problems Reading – If you have to move reading materials further away from your face to see it clearer then this is a good sign that you should go to the eye doctor’s because you might need some glasses for reading.
- Problems Seeing Things Far Away – If you are having problems reading street signs, or if you are a student and are having trouble reading the board in class then you should make an appointment with your eye doctor.
- Having Trouble Seeing At Night – If you feel like you could see well during the day but when you are driving at night time you feel like you can’t see too well this is another good indicator that you might need to have your eyes checked out.
Remember you don’t need to have any of these signs to go to the eye doctor for your routine exam. These are just indicators of vision issues, but as I have indicated above your routine eye exam can detect much more.
There is a lot that your eyes can show about your overall health. Some have even said that it could be even better at looking at your health than a physical.
So, don’t wait until you feel like you are having trouble seeing before coming in for an eye exam, it is just as important as your routine dental exam as well as your physical exam.
Remember children should be brought in for an eye exam once a year, and children are not going to tell you if they aren’t able to see they don’t know that what they are seeing isn’t “clear”. Some eye doctors can see children as young as 3 years old, but that varies from eye doctor to eye doctor.
How often do you get your eye exam? Let me know below! If you have comments, questions, or concerns let me know below and I will get back to you as quickly as I can. Have a great day.
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