It's necessary to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist regularly in order to keep your eyes in good working order. Diseases and conditions of the eye can often be treated successfully if caught early. Eye professionals recommend that everyone see an eye doctor at least every three years. Many people should see their eye doctors more often. According to the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, factors such as age, eye health and family health history determine how often one should have a complete eye exam.
Children should have eye exams as part of their routine medical preventative care. Babies should have their eyes checked at six months to screen for eye diseases. Beginning at age 3, children should have their vision checked every one to two years by their pediatrician at their regular well-child visits, or by an optometrist. Certain factors may cause a child to be more at risk for eye conditions and diseases, and may warrant earlier or more frequent vision screening tests. These include having been born prematurely, developmental delays, having crossed eyes, having sustained an injury to the eye, and having a family history of eye diseases. If your child has any of these conditions, speak to his pediatrician to find out how often he should have his eyes checked.
Adults Age 20 to 39
Adults who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses must see their optometrist every year in order to keep their prescriptions current. Adults who don't require corrective lenses can go two to three years between vision screenings as long as they aren't experiencing vision or eye problems. Certain problems may warrant more frequent vision checks. These include dry or itchy eyes; seeing distorted images such as spots, wavy lines or flashes of light; and eye pain. If you have hypertension or diabetes, you may also need to have your eyes checked more often.
Adults Over Age 40
Adults should have an eye exam at age 40 to screen for age-related eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and presbyopia. This screening can also detect early signs of diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases. After this screening, adults with no eye conditions or corrective lenses should see their eye doctor every year or two for routine vision checks. Those who have any vision changes or conditions listed above should ask their physician how often they need to have their eyes checked. Beginning at age 60 or 65, patients should begin having annual eye exams to check for vision changes, eye diseases and other conditions that may affect the eye.