You need eye exams even if you believe your eyes are healthy, because some eye diseases don’t cause symptoms. These include moderate conditions, such as vitreous floaters, and more serious conditions, such as cataracts, and even more serious conditions, such as glaucoma, that cause blindness.
If you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, you have an increased risk of eye disease and vision loss. You need regular exams to prevent or diagnose problems before they become serious. Eye exams can also help doctors diagnose health problems such as headaches. If you wear glasses or contacts, you need regular eye examinations. An eye exam can also tell you if you’re a good candidate for LASIK or another refractive eye surgery.
How Often Should I Have an Eye Exam?
It depends on your age. Regular eye examinations are the best way to protect your vision for a lifetime.
Here are our recommended eye exam intervals:
- Ages to 3: At regular pediatric physician visits.
- Ages 3 to 6: Every 1 to 2 years
- Ages 6 to 20: As needed, or at least 5-10 years
- Ages 20-30: Once during your 20's
- Ages 30-40: Every 5 years
- Ages 40-55: Every 2-4 years
- Ages 55 and older: Every 1 to 2 years
What Happens At Our Eye Exam?
We check your eye health and look for signs of eye disease. This usually takes less than an hour, and does not hurt.
We ask basic questions about your medical and eye health history.
- We examine your eyes and the surrounding tissue.
- We give tests to measure how sharp your vision is, and check abilities such as side, long distance and short distance vision.
We have general eye tests that include:
- Pupil inspection: We check the size and shape of your pupils and how they react to light and objects at various distances.
- Eye muscle health and mobility: We check your ability to move your eyes and track a moving object, such as a pen.
- Visual field: You cover one eye at a time. Looking straight ahead with the other eye, you identify objects in your peripheral vision, such as the number of fingers we hold up.
- Visual ability: Using a lettered chart, we test how well you see detail at a distance. You cover one eye and read the rows out loud, starting from the top line with the largest letters. The smallest row you can read correctly tells us the visual acuity in that eye.
- Refraction: You look through an eyepiece that holds interchangeable lenses and focus on a chart at a distance or up close. We change the lenses and ask you which one makes the chart clearer. This test helps determine your best vision in prescription glasses or contacts.
- Color vision: You look at a series of images with symbols embedded in colored dots or patterns. Your ability to see different symbols tests for certain types of color blindness.
- Ophthalmoscopy: Your doctor looks inside your eyes with lights and magnifying lenses. This test checks the health of your retina, the tissue at the back of the eye. Your doctor can also look for cataracts and monitor conditions such as glaucoma and diabetes. The doctor might give you eye drops that dilate (open) your pupils to get a better view.
- Tonometry: This test measures fluid pressure inside your eye. A puff of air or light touch with a sterile instrument measures how easily your cornea is pushed inward. Elevated eye pressure can indicate glaucoma or another condition. This test feels strange but doesn’t hurt.