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In general, discuss with your primary care physician when you need to see an ophthalmologist. Go over your family’s eye health history to determine if you’re at higher risk for certain diseases.
If you wear glasses, see your eye doctor annually to keep your prescription up to date and to screen for issues like retinal detachment.
After age 40, you should see an eye doctor once every two years. In addition to screening for asymptomatic issues like glaucoma, ophthalmologists often are the first to detect conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
If you experience vision changes at any time, such as blurriness or dimness, make an appointment with your eye doctor right away.
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The frequency of vision checks should be related to your age and any symptoms you may notice. For children, I suggest an evaluation before starting school for the first time, and sooner if there is any sign of excessive squinting, funny head positioning or eyes which do not seem to line up straight. As children grow they should be seen annually and once through puberty a bi-annual visit should be fine as long as no changes are noted in the quality of vision. For adults with no family history of eye disease and no change in vision a bi-annual exam is adequate. As we age I like to increase the frequency of examination to annually as I am on the lookout for development of cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma. If a person develops any ocular disease the frequency of visits will change to reflect the condition being monitored or treated.
Our eyes need regular checkups from childhood through our senior years.
Between 20 and 40, eye disease is less common, so people with good vision and no health problems can visit the optometrist every two or three years.
After 40, annual exams are important to spot age-related vision changes and screen for problems more common in older adults.
However, anything that goes wrong with your eyesight, or how your eyes look or feel, should be addressed immediately.
Generally, yearly checkups are helpful for preventive health, as eye doctors can occasionally catch some warning signs of other systemic diseases. Your primary care doctor may also have other reasons for wanting you to see an eye doctor, so follow her or his directions. Overall, healthy adults ages 18 to 40 without risk factors (for example, diabetes or a family history of eye problems) should see an eye doctor every two or three years. Healthy adults ages 41 to 60 should see an eye doctor about every two years. Adults ages 18 to 60 with risk factors should see an eye doctor every one to two years. The American Optometric Association recommends that people ages 61 and over visit an eye doctor annually regardless of other risk factors.
Eye exams are done to test your vision and screen for glaucoma and macular degeneration, two common, often age-related conditions. Eye exams are recommended at least once between ages 20 to 29 and at least two exams between ages 30 and 39. At age 40, get a baseline eye disease screening. Based on the results, follow the ophthalmologist's recommendations until age 65. After that, complete an eye exam every one to two years.
From the American Academy of Ophthalmology policy statement on frequency of examination: "For young individuals at higher risk for certain diseases, such as African-Americans who are at higher risk for glaucoma, comprehensive eye examinations should be considered every 2 to 4 years for those under age 40, every 1 to 3 years for those aged 40 to 54, and every 1 to 2 years for those aged 55 to 64, even in the absence of visual or ocular symptoms. Adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease should receive a baseline comprehensive eye evaluation at age 40. For asymptomatic individuals or individuals without risk factors who are 40 to 54 years old and who have had a comprehensive eye examination, the recommended interval for evaluations is 2 to 4 years. For individuals aged 55 to 64 years old, the recommended interval for evaluations is 1 to 3 years. For individuals 65 years old or older, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends an examination every 1 to 2 years, even in the absence of symptoms.
Following are guidelines for how often you need to see your eye doctor for a vision check:
- Younger than 40: After initial examination, only when visual changes, eye injury, or ocular symptoms occur
- Ages 40-64: Every two to four years
- Ages 65 and older: Every year
- People at greater risk for specific eye conditions because of age, family history, or other factors will need to schedule certain parts of the eye exam more frequently.
- People with certain illnesses, or those taking certain medications, may need to schedule more frequent exams; ask your doctor for guidance.
- Women who are pregnant and have diabetes may need more frequent eye exams.
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.