How Frequently Should I See My Eye Doctor?
Most people know to visit the dentist every six months. And everyone knows that getting a physical is an annual occurrence. But so many people don’t stop to think about visiting the eye doctor.
A visit to the eye doctor may be something we’ll jump on at the first sign of eye problems. But by then it might be too late.
You might be asking yourself: “How often should I visit the eye doctor?” Well, the answer is actually quite simple: it depends.
Don’t worry, we’ll make it clearer than that! Let’s review why regular visits to the eye doctor are so important and how often you should visit. That way, you’ll be well informed. You can then set up that next appointment when the time is right.
Why See an Eye Doctor?
A visit to the eye doctor is not just for people who need glasses or contact lenses. It’s for all of us! The eye doctor monitors and takes care of our general eye health, regardless of the need for corrective lenses.
An eye exam is a painless look at your eyes that provides the doctor with valuable info. This includes insight into your vision needs and the overall health of your eyes. It’s important because major issues can be caught early, which will then help treatment be more effective.
If you’re worried about the cost of an eye exam, you shouldn’t be — for three reasons:
First, the cost is pretty manageable, even if you have to pay out of pocket. Depending on where you go, an eye exam can cost anywhere from $50 to over $250. So shop around if money is a concern.
Second, in many cases, an eye exam can be covered by your insurance, making the cost negligible, if not zero. If you’re not sure about your coverage, check with your insurance provider. You’ll get the full details and find out what you’re covered for.
Third, there is no replacing your eyes if something happens to them. Having them checked regularly can help you avoid major problems, or even blindness. Nobody wants to feel that kind of regret for not doing something as simple as visiting the eye doctor.
What to Expect During an Eye Exam
Seeing the eye doctor can actually be a very interesting experience. It’s full of technology and casual conversation. You might even get a peek at what the inside of your eyes looks like.
Comprehensive eye exams are a very common process. So it doesn’t matter where you have yours done. It should include these same important details:
- A review of your personal and family medical history, including any eye health issues.
- Eye charts to evaluate your vision capabilities.
- Checking for farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia.
- The eye doctor should evaluate how well your eyes work together.
- An eye pressure test will check the optic nerve for signs of glaucoma.
- Examining the inside of your eyes will allow your eye doctor to look for macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye diseases.
Contact Lenses in the USA
Getting contact lenses will require more to the eye exam, on top of what we already mentioned. Your eye doctor must get accurate measurements to provide you with a proper prescription. That way, you can be sure your contacts will fit properly.
If you are already a contact lens wearer, you know that you need a prescription. You may also be aware that a prescription is only valid for one year. For that reason alone, you will need to see an eye doctor annually.
Yearly visits determine whether or not your vision has changed. They also check to see if your contacts are causing any problems due to a poor fit or even misuse. That could be anything from not cleaning them properly or wearing them past their due date.
Health Reasons to Visit the Eye Doctor
If you don’t need vision correction, a visit to the eye doctor is still an important part of your health regimen. It should be a standard routine for anyone of any age, and here’s why.
During an eye exam, the eye doctor can perform tests that detect signs of problems at an early stage. These include health problems that could cause blindness, or even death, if not detected early enough. You may not have symptoms, but the eye doctor can check for things like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, Multiple Sclerosis, and more.
It’s vital to catch these and other diseases early. It gives you and your doctors the best chance for treatment to stop the progression of the problem.
Now that we’ve maybe given you a scare, let’s take a breath and see just how often you should see the eye doctor.
Let’s Make an Appointment!
Like we said earlier, how often you should go to the eye doctor depends on you. So here’s what you should know about when to visit the eye doctor:
Young Children - According to the CDC, children should see the eye doctor at the following milestones:
- Newborn to 3 months
- 6 months to 1 year
- 3 years
- 5 years
Anyone under 40 Years of Age - Every two to four years
40 to 54 Years of Age - Every one to three years
55 to 64 Years of Age - Every one to two years
Over the age of 65 - Every six to 12 months
These are general guidelines. If you have a pre-existing condition or your ethnicity or family history includes a predisposition for certain risks, your schedule may differ.
For example, people who have diabetes are urged to visit the eye doctor for a dilated eye exam each year regardless of their age.
Also, some people may be at higher risk for glaucoma, which includes:
- African Americans over 40 years of age
- All adults 60 years of age and over
- People with a history of glaucoma in the family
For these groups, the recommendation would be to get a dilated eye exam every two years. But, if you are not certain about your personal situation, your doctor can guide you.
Take Control of Your Eye Health
As you can see, there are several factors that go into answering a simple question like how frequently you should see an eye doctor.
The two main reasons to get your eyes checked regularly are your eye health and your overall well-being.
Remember, the eye doctor can play a major role in keeping you healthy. They aren’t just for contact lens prescriptions. Although, those are great too!