Sight is one of the most important senses we have to perceive the world around us. Routine eye care is one of the best tools we have to protect and improve our vision at every stage of life. Eye care is just as important as any other form of health care when it comes to managing our overall well-being. But why is it so important to visit an optometrist on a regular basis?
Optometrists: The Eye Specialists
The truth is, you can never really know everything about your vision health unless you regularly visit your optometrist to get the proper testing. Vision testing requires special equipment in order to perform a comprehensive check of your eye health.
Many of these examinations would simply not be possible without the proper tools for the job. You may have received a vision screening before, but these screenings are only one of the many steps to completing a comprehensive eye exam.
Oftentimes, people think that they have good vision until they visit their eye doctor for the first time and find that there are ways to improve their vision so things can get much clearer! Additionally, many common diseases can go unnoticed for a long time until they are detected during an eye test.
Vision care is vital to overall health, so it is essential to visit an expert on a regular basis no matter your age or general health. It is better to become a regular visitor to your Optometrist than to wait for your vision to get too blurry to see street signs clearly or for eye strain to cause you headaches. Learn more about the importance of professional eyecare and your vision health.
During an eye exam, your doctor will test your depth perception, visual sharpness, eye movement, and eye alignment. These types of tests can help your eye specialist determine if you will need any vision correction. These regular exams can also help detect eye diseases at early stages, which can prevent the need for more extensive treatment later in life!
How often should you visit the eye doctor?
Children should visit their primary eye care provider regularly in order to ensure that their eyes are developing properly and to catch any potential vision problems that may arise.
Typically, children are recommended to have an eye exam at 6 months, 3 years, and before they start school. Some children can fall behind in school and in their ability to read if they are having issues with their vision. Being prescribed glasses by a doctor early can help prevent delay in learning in children with vision problems.
Adults between 18 and 60 years of age are recommended to have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years. Getting professional eye care can help identify a number of vision problems and health concerns and treat them early. Seniors who are 61 years or older are recommended to visit their optometrist on a yearly basis.
Note: People living with diabetes are recommended to have a dilated eye exam at least once every two years.
Common Vision Problems and Health Concerns
Unfortunately, it is estimated that over 90 million adults in the United States are at high risk for vision loss. This problem becomes even more significant because statistically, only a few of those at risk have visited an eye doctor within the past 12 months.
The truth is, many of the most common eye diseases can cause permanent damage unless they are treated early by an optometrist.
Some common eyes diseases and health concerns that can be addressed by your eye doctor include:
- Nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism
Refractive errors that can be corrected through the use of glasses, contacts, or laser surgery.
A condition that causes one or both eyes to be misaligned or one eye needs more correction than the other.
- Focus issues
When a person has issues focusing their eyes causing vision issues.
A condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object.
Clouding of the lens (the leading cause of vision loss in the United States.)
- Diabetic retinopathy
Causes damage to blood vessels located in the back of the eye.
- Age-related degeneration
The gradual breakdown of light-sensitive tissue found in the eye.
It would most likely benefit children who have increased risk of eye disease to visit and have eye exams more frequently. There are some factors that may put children at an increased risk for eye disease including:
- Developmental delay
- Premature birth
- Prior eye injury
- Personal or family history of eye disease
- Certain medications
- Some diseases such as an HIV infection or diabetes
If you are experiencing any of the following vision symptoms, especially for a prolonged period of time, you may want to consider visiting your eye doctor:
- Decreased vision or blurriness
- Redness or draining of the eye
- Prolonged eye pain
- Circles (halos) being visible around lights
- Flashes of light
- Doubled vision
- Floaters (tiny specks that appear to be floating in front of your eyes)
Tips to Protect Your Vision
As our population ages, the number of people who are living with vision impairment continues to increase and the CDC expects this number to nearly double by the year 2050. The best way to avoid vision problems in the future is for people to take the necessary steps to protect their vision today.
The best way to protect your vision health is to visit your eye doctor regularly in order to have regular exams. However, there are some other common practices that can help keep your eyes as healthy as possible. In addition to routine eye exams, some easy ways to protect your vision include:
- Maintaining a healthy diet that includes vegetables like spinach, kale or carrots.
- Avoid smoking.
- Protect yourself from UV-A and UV-B radiation from the sun using sunglasses.
- Avoid spending too much time focusing on one thing (such as a computer screen or tv) to avoid eye strain.
Tip: Practice the 20-20-20 rule! For every 20 minutes of screen time, look away at something about 20 feet in front of you and keep looking for 20 seconds. This will allow your eyes to adjust and avoid excessive strain.