When and What of Eye Exams for the Novice Patient

Sadly, many people will only set an appointment with an eye doctor at Walmart if and when they experience eye issues. This should not be as regular eye exams are instrumental in the detection of eye problems at their earliest phase, a time when they are usually most treatable.

When an Eye Exam Is a Must

Each person will have different needs in eye exams including their frequency. This is because the frequency of eye exams will depend on personal factors including your age, risk for eye issues, and overall health, among others. For example, you may require frequent eye exams due to your diabetes, which increases the risks for blindness.  

In general, eye doctors recommend these basic guidelines:  

  • For children 5 years and younger, an eye doctor will check for crossed eyes, turned-out eyes, and lazy eye, among other common childhood problems. You should bring your child when you start noticing vision-related symptoms since early treatment is often crucial.  
  • For school-age children and adolescents, an eye doctor will recommend vision tests once every year or every two years depending on the risks for eye illnesses. You may want to have your child’s vision checked before he enters first grade.
  • For adults, the frequency of eye exams varies depending on age provided that there are no symptoms of eye issues. If you are in your 20s and 30s, you should have your eyes checked once every 5-10 years; every 2-4 years in your 40s and mid-50s; every 1-3 years in your mid-50s and mid-60s; and every 1-2 years when you are 65 years and older.

But your eye doctor will recommend more frequent eye exams under the following circumstances:

  • Wear contact lenses or eyeglasses
  • With a family history of eye illnesses or with a personal history of eye injuries
  • With a chronic disease that increases the risks for eye diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes
  • With risks for congenital or genetic eye diseases, like retinitis pigmentosa

The bottom line: You have to undergo eye exams so as to maintain your good vision.  

What Happens in an Eye Exam

You don’t have to worry as an eye exam should not involve pain although a small discomfort can be felt. You can expect these standard steps, too:  

  • You will answer questions about your past and present vision problems as well as your medical history including chronic degenerative diseases, medications, and family history.
  • Your eye doctor will measure your visual acuity with the use of special tools.
  • You will be subjected to tests including eye pressure and eye health checks using special lights.

You and your eye doctor will then discuss any treatment plan, if necessary, after the exam.  

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