How Often Do You Really Need an Eye Exam?

Submitted by GemStateEyes on Wed, 05/25/2022 - 12:09
Empty eye doctor office with white furniture and exam posters

Scheduling an eye exam, just like any medical exam, is an important aspect of personal care. Regular checkups help prevent more costly appointments down the road by preventing eye health issues that can be easily managed. In addition, eye exams also provide insight into your general health status. Depending on age, vision, medical history, and other factors, the frequency of eye exams can vary from one person to another. In this article, we’ll overview a baseline of how often different age groups should attend eye exams, what to expect in an eye exam, and why it's so important to stay on top of your eye care.

When to Go In For an Eye Exam, By Age

If there are no vision problems, injuries, or other eye-related symptoms present, then the below represents a general baseline of how often each age group should go in for an eye exam.

Six Months - Six Years

At about six months of age, you should take your infant in to be examined. First, their pediatrician can assess for crossed eyes, lazy eye, or any obvious eye related issues. You should then visit your family eye doctor to have your baby’s vision tested. After that, it is highly recommended that you have your child’s vision tested again before they enter kindergarten or first grade. Setting up your child for a great educational experience means ensuring their vision performs at its very best.

If your child is prescribed glasses, you will need to increase eye exams to every six months to ensure that their prescription stays accurate.

Six Years - 20 Years

Once your child has reached school age and above, attending eye exams every two years generally suffices. Again, your eye doctor will advise if more frequent eye examinations are required due to special circumstances. As your child continues to grow and develop, watch for any emerging symptoms that may warrant a call to your eye doctor:

  • Frequent headaches or eye fatigue
  • Rubbing, winking, blinking, or tilting the head to see
  • Complaints of seeing double
  • Holding books or electronics devices very close to see
  • Crossing or lazy eyes

Finally, difficulty paying attention, reading, and learning in school can be a side effect of vision problems, so be sure to check that out before assuming behavior problems are the reason.

20 Years - 39 Years

During this period of adulthood, many people have settled into their general vision status and are not exceedingly likely to develop sudden problems. In general, an eye exam once every two to three years works just fine. That being said, African Americans are at a higher risk of vision loss and related problems, so this group is advised to visit their eye doctor once every one to two years.

There are a few reasons why anyone in this age group may need more frequent eye exams, including diabetes, high blood pressure, a recent eye injury or surgery, or medications that cause vision side effects. Finally, pregnant women may experience subtle changes to their vision and should discuss any concerns with their obgyn and eye doctor.

40 Years - 64 Years

Adults in this age group may experience more rapid change in vision, such as gradual vision loss and an increased frequency of lens prescription changes. As a person ages, the lens of the eyeball slowly hardens, which gradually impacts vision. The most common result of this lens hardening is presbyopia, or farsightedness. The risk of developing health conditions that can lead to vision loss also increases during this time. For these reasons, you may need to schedule an eye exam every one-two years.

65 Years - Plus

By the time an adult has matured to about 65 or older, we advise that a yearly eye exam is needed to help stay on top of any vision changes. In addition to more rapidly deteriorating eyesight, older adults are also more prone to developing cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye health and vision related issues. Maintaining proactive eyecare and an up to date vision prescription helps to ensure that your ‘golden years’ remain golden.

What Happens in an Eye Exam

An eye exam is conducted with time and care, so you can expect anywhere upwards of an hour or even two to complete yours. When a complete eye exam occurs, your doctor will speak with you about your eyesight and general health, lifestyle changes, family history, and any other relevant information. They will also have you perform a thorough vision test, as well as eye focusing, team, refraction, and other vision diagnostic tests. Eye anatomy tests, such as pupil dilation, slit lamp observation, and other tests may also be performed to ensure that your eye is healthy. You’ll receive an updated prescription if you wear glasses or contact lenses, and your doctor will make the necessary referrals if any additional medical or eye care is needed.

Why Is It So Important?

Regular eye exams are crucial to ensuring that as a person grows up, develops, makes lifestyle changes, and ages, their eyesight remains optimal throughout the course of their life. Not only are eye exams critical to maintaining good vision and eye health, but also to ensuring that any correlated health conditions are addressed. As we’ve already mentioned, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other diseases can be related to vision issues. Catching possible signs of eye health and general health related problems early allows for prompt treatment - saving big on time, discomfort, stress, and money in the long run.

Make An Eye Exam Appointment

An eye exam is not a painful experience, and it can even be pleasant! We take the time to get to know you and your vision related concerns, because we recognize how important healthy eyes are to living a full and thriving life. If it's been a bit too long since your last eye exam, let’s get you caught up. Schedule your eye exam with our friendly eye care experts today.