It’s common to visit your dentist and primary care doctor once a year, but many people overlook their ophthalmologist. Most adults should see an eye doctor at least every two years to ensure healthy vision.
“Healthy vision is proactive,” Dr. David W. Jackson with Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI) says. “Identifying potential problems early can prevent irreversible damage. Glaucoma, diabetes, and eye rubbing silently damage the optic nerve, retina, and cornea. Undiagnosed, these conditions cause vision loss and blindness.”
The Difference between Vision Screenings and Eye Exams
Vision screenings test visual acuity. They can be given by anyone and only detect major problems in vision, like near- or farsightedness. Typically, if a person fails a vision screening, it’s recommended that they visit an eye doctor for a professional diagnosis.
An eye exam is comprehensive and can only be giving by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. It tests visual acuity and the overall health of your eyes. It will check for early signs of serious diseases like glaucoma and cataracts.
How Yearly Eye Exams Can Benefit You
Many eye diseases go unnoticed for long time periods. Only when they advance to moderate or late stages can they be noticeable. Unfortunately, this can cause irreversible damage and vision loss. Annual exams are a preventive practice. By monitoring your eyes for early signs of eye disease, you can help prevent future vision loss. If you have a family history of eye health problems, make a habit of scheduling an exam once a year.
Do I need an annual eye exam if I have perfect vision?
Prevention is important to your overall eye health. Your vision changes in subtle ways. As you age, it’s likely that your vision will weaken. The risk for developing blinding diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration also increases with age. Older adults need more frequent monitoring.
While not as often as adults, children also need exams. Vision screenings are given in schools, but they’re not comprehensive. Basic screenings can miss less noticeable eye issues. If you think your child is having vision or eye problems, schedule a thorough exam with a pediatric ophthalmologist.
What an Eye Exam Can Say About Your Overall Health
Eyes reveal more than vision issues. An eye exam can reveal issues with diabetes by the presence of leaking blood vessels in the eye or hypertension if there are bends, kinks, or tears in the blood vessels. It can also reveal signs of autoimmune disorders through inflammation of the retina. Yellow rings around the cornea indicate high cholesterol. Liver disease also causes yellowing of the eyes. Thyroid disease can cause bulging of the eyes. Even tapeworms are identifiable through an eye infection called cysticercoids.