More than 61 million adults in the United States are at high risk for vision loss, but only half have visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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A regular visit to the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam is a preventive health care measure similar to getting a check-up from your primary care physician or your dentist. Like many health issues, it’s easier to treat a vision health issue the earlier it is detected.
In this post, we’ll discuss the steps involved in an eye exam, what an eye exam checks, and how often you or your family members should go.
A comprehensive eye exam is different from a vision screening. Screenings are shorter than full examinations, and vision problems can’t be diagnosed exactly. Instead, these vision screenings help indicate whether you should make an appointment for a more complete eye exam.
A typical eye exam checks the following:
- Patient and Medication History – Help your eye care professional understand any previous vision and medical health issues.
- Visual Acuity – This portion determines how well your eye sees. Visual acuity is considered normal at 20/20.
- Light Sensitivity – When light shines onto your pupils, they generally constrict. If they dilate, that could be an issue. Additionally, light can also reveal corneal scars, scratches, or signs of cataract development.
- Eye Movement – This helps ensure proper alignment and muscle function.
- Eye Pressure – An elevated pressure can indicate glaucoma.
- Peripheral Vision – Side vision tests can also help detect glaucoma.
The Mayo Clinic offers a helpful guide for knowing when to get your eyes checked:
- Children ages 3-5 – At least once, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
- Before children enter first grade
- Adults – Adults with no vision issues can get away with seeing an eye doctor every 5-10 years, but as they age, they should schedule more frequent visits.
- If you have vision problems – Check your vision health more often if you have a prescription for glasses or contacts, if you have a family history of vision health issues, or if you have a chronic disease that affects your eyes.
Finally, regular vision health check-ups help detect:
- Whether you need a prescription for glasses or contacts
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Other diseases
A typical eye exam takes about an hour to perform, depending on the patient.
We recommend taking that time to schedule a regular eye exam for you or your family regardless of whether you believe you may be at high risk for vision loss. The benefits of doing so far outweigh the risks. Contact the Bard Optical office closest to you to schedule your next comprehensive eye exam today.