The Importance of Routine Eye Examinations
Unfortunately, regular eye examinations are often overlooked until our eyes hurt or our vision becomes blurry or we have some other issue. Even if your vision is perfectly fine, routine eye examinations are vitally important as they are often the only way to detect many of the worst eye diseases before they have robbed you of your sight.
Importance Of Regular Eye Exams
Finding eye diseases as early as possible gives you the best chance of saving your sight. Some of the most common eye diseases can blind you before you ever notice the first symptoms.
Diabetic eye disease, the most common cause of blindness in the United States, has no symptoms in its early stages and most easily treated. At that stage, the only way for a person with diabetes to know if they have diabetic eye disease is to get a routine eye exam at least once a year.
Glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness in the US, is often referred to as the silent thief of sight, because it also has no symptoms at all in the early stages. Once the disease has advanced to the point that your vision is impacted, it is often too late to prevent vision loss. Sadly, with glaucoma vision loss is permanent. It is also important to note that simply monitoring the eye pressure is not enough. A comprehensive exam including dilation to evaluate the nerve is essential for anyone at risk of glaucoma. While most common in older adults, glaucoma can occur at any age, which is why it is vital to have a comprehensive eye examination at regular intervals.
Macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of blindness among Americans over age 50, can be treated in the early stages to slow the progression of the disease. Unfortunately, the early stages of macular degeneration have no symptoms and can only be caught during a comprehensive eye examination.
How often should I have a comprehensive eye exam?
To be safe, you should have a thorough eye examination on a regular basis to be sure your eyes are as healthy as you think they are.
- Children should have their first examination, including a measurement of vision, before they begin kindergarten. Their vision should be measured at least every few years to make sure their sight is developing normally.
- Teens should have a comprehensive eye examination before learning to drive, to ensure untreated vision problems aren’t a danger to the new driver and others as they take to the roads.
- Adults should have an eye exam every year or at least every two beginning at age 40 and at least once a year after age 50 when they are at higher risk of many of the most prevalent blinding diseases.
- People with diabetes should, regardless of age, have a comprehensive eye examination every year starting when they are diagnosed with diabetes.
- People with a family history of eye diseases, like glaucoma or macular degeneration, should have comprehensive examinations once a year beginning at age 30.
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