Why should I have regular eye exams as I get older?

Speak with your doctor about any changes in your vision. People 65 or older should be examined annually by an ophthalmologist, a doctor specializing in eye health. Those with a family history of eye disease or diabetes should receive a dilated-pupil eye exam. Early detection may prevent significant visual impairment—and its accompanying loss of function and independence.

After 40, annual eye exams are important to spot age-related vision changes and screen for common eye problems in older adults.

Most people in their 40s start to have trouble seeing clearly for reading and other close work because of normal changes in their ability to focus. An eye doctor can help improve near vision with glasses, bifocals, contact lenses or laser surgery.

Our vision can continually change as we mature. Often people need reading glasses as they get older. In addition, there are other things that can happen in the eye. Cataracts can form in the eye lens, causing problems focusing and with driving at night. Other problems can occur at the back of the eye by the retina, related to other diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. If these are dealt with early, it may save your vision. There is another condition called glaucoma, which is raised pressure within the eyes. People do not realize how much this affects their vision until it is too late, but your eye doctor can screen for high pressure in your eyes and treat it far sooner than you would ever detect on your own.

As you get older, it is very important to have regular eye examinations. Some eye changes may signal something more serious than age-related changes, such as an eye disease that needs medical treatment. Even if you are not experiencing eye symptoms, regular checkups are a must. Many eye diseases do not have warning symptoms but could be minimized or slowed with proper treatment. For example, although eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachment are often painless and the onset is gradual, they can greatly impair vision if not promptly treated.

Dr. Aaron P. Weingeist, MD
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

If you are in your 30s and otherwise healthy, do not require glasses or contact lenses, have not had a serious eye injury or eye surgery, and do not have a family history of serious eye disease, you should have a comprehensive eye exam by the time that you are 40. If you have any of the issues that I just mentioned, you may have a higher risk of eye disease and should be evaluated more regularly, depending on the specifics of that problem. Consult your eye doctor to determine the most appropriate interval.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Regular comprehensive eye exams are critical to protecting your sight. Typical vision problems you’ll be screened for include simple refractive issues like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (irregular conformation of the cornea), and age-related presbyopia (inability to see at close distances).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.