Are you wondering how often you and your kids should have an eye exam? Several factors determine the frequency of your eye exams, such as your age, overall health, ocular health, risk of developing an eye disease, and family medical history. Regular checkups help your eye doctor detect and treat eye conditions when treatment is most effective in preventing vision loss or chronic discomfort. The experienced optometrists at our family eye care center in Palm Beach County, FL have provided some guidelines below.
Eye exams benefit more than your eyes. Our eye doctor can often detect signs of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, blood disorders, and sometimes malignancies just by examining your eyes. And although many of these conditions are primarily found in adults, it is also important that children are examined routinely. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), back-to-school eye exams are essential to helping children succeed in the classroom. The AOA encourages parents to make comprehensive eye examinations a priority, just as they do with school physicals. Children with uncorrected vision conditions or eye health problems can face many barriers in life—academically, athletically, and socially. Outlined below are the key AOA recommendations for eye exams.
Birth to 24 months: At 6 months of age or as recommended by your pediatrician or eye doctor. Although our eye doctors do not begin examining children this young, we recommend that these young children be examined to evaluate for congenital cataracts and malignancies that rarely but characteristically appear at birth and shortly thereafter in this age group. Early detection can be life-saving in some cases.
2 to 5 years: At age 3 years or as recommended. This period in life is critical for the detection of amblyopia or lazy eye, which for the best treatment outcome, is best diagnosed and treated at a very young age.
6 to 18 years: Before first grade and every 2 years thereafter. Certain factors may require children to have more frequent eye exams. These include prematurity, low birth weight, infection in a mother during pregnancy, difficult or assisted labor which may be associated with fetal distress, a known or suspected central nervous system dysfunction evidenced by developmental delay, etc. Additionally, this is the period in the life of greatest growth and development and it coincides with the greatest changes in vision as the eyes develop. Children don’t always perceive vision problems, especially when one eye is performing better than the other. Routine examinations are key in detecting the onset of vision problems.
18 to 60 years: Every 1 to 2 years as recommended. During this period of life, the notorious changes in near tasks that take place during the ’40s and ’50s can have a profound impact on quality of life. This is especially true in this era of technology where most people utilize smartphones and computers on a daily basis. While some people take advantage of ready-made over-the-counter reading glasses, in most cases prescription lenses made specifically for a patient and for his or her unique work environment can be instrumental in making vision more comfortable and clear for the duration of a workday.
61 and older: Annually or as recommended due to an increased risk of eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eyes, and glaucoma.
Adults who need more frequent eye exams include those:
With diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of ocular disease (e.g., glaucoma, macular degeneration)
Working in hazardous occupations or doing work that is visually demanding
Taking prescription or non-prescription drugs with ocular side effects
Wearing contact lenses
Who have had eye surgery
With other health concerns or conditions
An annual eye exam helps you stay on top of your ocular health. However, vision and eye health can change significantly during a year, requiring some individuals to have an eye checkup sooner. Here are some key signs that you should schedule an eye exam as soon as possible:
You are seeing spots, floaters, or flashes of light
Your eyes are dry, itchy, or red, or you have an eye infection or discharge
You have sensitivity to light
You have difficulty driving at night, you cannot see road signs, objects, or other vehicles clearly
You have blurred vision, frequent headaches/migraines, or eye fatigue after using a computer
You have diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or another condition that can affect your eyes
You get dizzy, have motion sickness, or trouble following a moving target
You hold reading material close up or further away
You notice changes in vision after an illness or any type of head trauma
You cannot remember when you last had an eye exam
Vision and eye health issues do not always have recognizable signs, which in some cases only manifest at later stages. Relying on the occurrence of obvious symptoms to initiate an eye examination can expose you and your family to unnecessary risk of long-term complications.
Certainly maintaining eye health is always of greatest concern when it comes to the timeliness of eye examinations, but it may help you to know the legal guidelines for the prescription of eyeglasses and contact lenses. These guidelines are dictated by state laws and thus vary by state. In the State of Florida, eyeglass prescriptions are valid for a period of 5 years and all contact lens prescriptions with the exception of daily disposable contact lenses are valid for a period of 1 year. Daily disposable contact lens prescriptions are valid for 2 years given their improved safety profile over reusable contact lenses. Regardless of the validity of a contact lens prescription written by our doctor, we recommend eye examinations annually for our contact lens wearers, as there is a significantly greater risk for sight-threatening complications when utilizing this medical device.
At SeaView Eyecare, we offer comprehensive eye services for adults and children. Using state-of-the-art equipment, our board-certified optometrists can detect and treat eye problems and correct vision in patients of all ages. Come and see our extensive selection of stylish sunglasses and prescription eyewear.
Call SeaView Eyecare at 561-790-7290 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at our eye exam center in Palm Beach County, FL.