Regular eye exams improve quality of life, but how often do you need an eye exam? No one wants to waste time and money on unnecessary vision screenings and exams. On the other hand, eye exams can catch minor problems before they become major problems.
Many eye problems have subtle symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, eye diseases and conditions can have a significant impact on your health and functioning. Ophthalmological exams can also flag serious conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease and tumors in their early stages. School children with refraction errors often get better grades after they get glasses.
Eye Exams for Infants and Young Children
The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends the first comprehensive eye exam at six months old. The next exam should be at the age of three. Another exam is needed directly before entering first grade.
Eye Exams for School-Age Children and Teenagers
Children who do not wear glasses should get an eye exam every two years. Glasses-wearers need an annual exam, or at a frequency recommended by their eye doctor.
Eye Exams for Adults Ages 20-60
Adults have the worst track record when it comes to regular eye exams. However, they need a dilated eye exam every one to two years. Going for years without an eye exam can do untold damage. For example, uncorrected refractive errors lead to traffic accidents, squinting, eye strain, and lower productivity. Glaucoma, a serious eye condition, can strike at any age. Poor night vision can be treatable, depending on the cause.
Eye Exams for Seniors Ages 60 and Up
Living a long life takes it toll on the eyes. Most seniors need an annual exam. If you notice vision changes, see the eye doctor sooner. After age 80, visit the eye doctor at least twice per year.
Some seniors self-diagnose vision changes to their detriment. For example, they may skip the eye doctor and write off vision changes as a side-effect of diabetes (diabetic retinopathy). The vision issues could be a different eye disease, such as macular degeneration. An eye exam would catch this and start treatment earlier, slowing vision loss.
Seniors should post an Amsler Grid on a cork board or inside a closet door. Once a month, follow the grid’s instructions to screen for macular degeneration. This is no substitute for an eye exam, but it may catch problems sooner.
If you have difficulty paying for eye exams, type “free eye exams” or “low-cost eye exams” into a search engine.