Eye health conditions are not always accompanied by recognizable symptoms. Waiting until there are obvious symptoms before you go for an eye exam could expose you to unnecessary risk. Any treatment that may be needed should be initiated promptly.
Depending on your age, risk factors and physical condition, eye care experts recommend having a complete eye exam every one to three years. Regular eye exams are important for every member of your family.
Vision problems can interfere with learning, so regular eye exams are essential for children.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) recommends that infants have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age.
Children aged between two and five years old, should have at least one eye examination. Even if your child can’t read an eye chart, an eye doctor can use shapes, pictures and other child-friendly ways to evaluate their vision and eye health.
School aged children, between six to 19 years of age, should be examined annually.
Children with risk factors or existing vision problems should be examined by an eye doctor more often. Common risk factors that could affect eye health include:
• Premature birth
• Developmental delays
• Turned or crossed eyes
• A family history of eye disease
• History of eye injury
• Other physical illness or disease
Children who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses should have their eyes examined every 12 months or according to their doctor’s advice.
Adults aged 20 to 39 years of age should be examined by an eye doctor every two to three years.
If you are between the ages of 40 and 64, you should have your eyes checked every two years to check for common age-related eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Adults 65 years of age and older should have an eye exam every year as they are at a higher risk for many eye conditions and diseases that can threaten their eyesight.
• Presbyopia is a natural effect of aging. The ability to focus on objects close-up decreases over time and can cause headaches, blurred vision and sore eyes.
• Cataracts cause distorted or cloudy vision because the lens inside the eye loses its transparency over time. This condition can require changes to your eyeglasses or surgery.
• Diabetic retinopathy is a weakening or swelling of the tiny blood vessels in the retina and the growth of new blood vessels, resulting in blood leakage and other changes. Left untreated, blindness can result.
• Macular degeneration is a disease that results in degenerative changes to your central vision. It is a leading cause of vision loss among older adults.
• Glaucoma often has no symptoms until significant damage has been done. It is caused by elevated pressure within the eye and can lead to serious vision loss if not detected and treated early.
• Low vision is simply very limited sight. Without treatment, it will interfere with a person’s daily activities.
Many factors will influence the frequency of optometric examinations. Some risk factors that your eye doctor will consider include:
• Diabetes, hypertension or a family history of eye disease
• Working in a visually demanding or eye hazardous occupation
• Taking prescription or non-prescription drugs with ocular side effects
• Wearing contact lenses
• If you’ve had eye surgery
• Other health concerns or conditions
Only your optometrist, upon weighing all of your health factors, can determine when you should return for another examination.