How Often Should You Get Your Eyes Checked?
By: Dr. Brad Boyle
Just how often do you actually need to get your eyes checked?
Do you really need to see the eye doctor every year, even if you experience no eye discomfort or difficulty seeing?
Why can’t you just take an online vision test every now and again and skip the doctor?
I’m Dr. Brad Boyle, OD with Advanced Family Eye Care in Waterloo & Independence Iowa, and here’s everything you need to know about the suggested frequency of eye exams & why it’s important, from the experts.
How often should you see the eye doctor for an exam?
The American Optometric Association (AOA) suggests the following eye exam frequency for asymptomatic or low risk individuals:
- At least once between the ages of 6-12 months old
- At least once between the ages of 3-5 years old
- Once a year between the ages of 6-17 years old
- At least once every 2 years between the ages of 18-64 years old
- Once a year for ages 65+
They suggest the following eye exam frequency for symptomatic or high risk* individuals:
(*Symptomatic or high risk individuals are those with a family history of ocular disease, wearing contact lenses, high or progressive refractive errors, and other eye-related health conditions or concerns).
- At least once between the ages of 6-12 months old, or as recommended
- At least once between the ages of 3-5 years old, or as recommended
- At least once a year between the ages of 6-17 years old, or as recommended
- At least once a year between the ages of 18-64 years old, or as recommended
- At least once a year for ages 65+, or as recommended
So in general, the AOA suggests that everyone should get their eyes checked annually, with the exception of:
- Children up to age 5 (they should be seen twice by this age, or as suggested by their doctor).
- Individuals between the ages of 18-64 who are asymptomatic or low risk (they should be seen at least once every 2 years, or as suggested by their doctor).
5 Benefits of Seeing The Eye Doctor for An Exam Every Year
At Advanced Family Eye Care, we encourage being proactive about the health of your precious eyes with annual exams – regardless of your age or eye status – Here’s why.
1. Catch eye threats early on
As the popular saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. In other words, the best time to see the eye doctor is when your eyes feel fine.
Many eye issues begin without symptoms, and only an eye doctor can detect them. Early diagnosis and treatment can be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a life changing condition.
According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, it is estimated that over 80% of global visual impairment is preventable or treatable.
Regular eye exams are the only way to ensure that you are staying on top of your eye health and catch eye threats or conditions early on for appropriate treatment.
2. Monitor your health beyond the eyes
An eye exam goes beyond basic visual acuity tests and even beyond eye health.
In fact, an eye exam can identify early warning signs of hundreds of diseases unrelated to your vision – including stroke risks, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases and signs of cancer.
At Advanced Family Eye are, we view ourselves as part of each person’s primary healthcare team, working closely with primary care providers on behalf of our patients to provide coordinated care.
Just as you should you should see your primary care physician regularly, you should see the eye doctor as part of your overall health & wellbeing regimen.
3. Ensure optimal visual acuity
We experience the world through our eyes, and its important to ensure that they are achieving optimal visual acuity (vision sharpness).
Our eyes change shape frequently. Whether your vision is currently being corrected or not, it is possible that your vision has further changed to less than 20/20 and you don’t even know it.
The best way to ensure that your eyes are performing their best is with an annual visual acuity test from the eye doctor.
What about a simple online vision screening test? Those can be useful, but they have lots of room for error and only indicate the potential need for further screening by an eye care specialist.
The only way to ensure optimal vision & eye health is from a visit to your local optometrist.
4. It’s quick, painless & affordable
Odds are, you’ve had your eyes dilated before and it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Good news – while dilation is still an important part of many exams, the advancement of diagnostic tools has provided optometrists with opportunities to take a closer look at eyes without dilation in most routine check-ups.
At Advanced Family Eye Care, we pride ourselves on getting to know you and your eyes in a comfortable & family-friendly environment. Who knows, you may even enjoy yourself at your next check-up.
What about the price? Do you really need to go to the eye doctor every year, or can you save money by being more reactive about your eye health?
Most eye doctors have extensive insurance networks, resulting in little-to-no out of pocket expense for your visit. Take full advantage of the insurance that you pay for with annual eye exams.
Even with no insurance or out-of-network cases, the national average cost of an eye exam is around $150. That amounts to just 41 cents a day for an annual eye exam – a small price to pay for healthy eyes. The eye doctor can also offer additional savings on things like prescription eyewear & contact lenses.
5. Experience peace of mind
Eye care is not an expense, but an investment in your overall wellbeing & peace of mind.
We only get one body, one set of eyes – ensure the best for them by adding annual eye exams to your overall health plan.
The bottom line
Eye experts strongly encourage regular eye exams, even for those with no eye symptoms or risk factors. In most cases, regularly means at least once annually or as recommended by your eye care specialist.
Eye exams are not only the only the best way to ensure eye health, but they are an important part in any overall wellbeing plan.