Why Everyone Needs an Eye Exam

Why Everyone Needs an Eye Exam

Magnifying lens over eye during eye exam

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There is a common misconception that eye exams are only necessary if you wear glasses. Not only is this incorrect, it can be a dangerous assumption to make. Regular eye exams are important for everyone, from children to seniors. In this blog, we’ll discuss what your doctor is looking for in an eye exam, and why this preventative visit is essential to maintaining your overall health.

What is an eye exam?

During a routine eye exam, an optometrist will:

Check your visual acuity to determine how well you see
Perform a refraction to determine the power of your prescription, if needed
Measure the pressure in your eyes to look for glaucoma
Test the alignment and movement of your eye muscles
Check your peripheral vision
Test the reaction of your pupils when exposed to light
Use a slit lamp to look for problems in the front part of your eye
Dilate your eyes to look for problems in the back part of your eye

These tests make up the bulk of an eye exam, but additional testing may be necessary. If your eye doctor sees anything of concern, they may take additional photos or scans of the eye.

Why do I need these tests?

Vision loss is often gradual, and may not be noticeable until it is too late to treat the cause. Diseases like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration often have no early symptoms and can only be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. Diabetes and macular degeneration cause damage to the retina, while glaucoma damages the optic nerve. The damage caused by these diseases is permanent, and cannot be corrected with glasses. Early detection and treatment is essential to prevent vision loss and keep eyes healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults in the US.  The CDC also states that early detection and treatment could prevent or delay blindness due to diabetic retinopathy in 90% of diabetics, but 50% or more of them don’t get their eyes examined or are diagnosed too late for effective treatment. Additionally, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) lists these conditions that your eye doctor may detect during an exam:

Brain tumor
Giant cell arteritis
High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Lyme disease
Medication toxicity
Multiple sclerosis
Myasthenia gravis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Sexually transmitted diseases
Sickle cell disease
Sjogren’s syndrome
Thyroid disease
Vascular disease
Vitamin A deficiency

Does my child need an eye exam if they had a screening at school?

Yes. Everyone needs to have their eyes checked by an eye doctor. While most children receive a vision screening in school, this is a baseline evaluation of their visual acuity and NOT the same as an eye exam.  At this time, many schools are transitioning to online learning, and children may not even receive a vision screening, making it even more important to be seen by an optometrist. Babies should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age. Undetected vision problems in children can become permanent if not treated early. Additionally, a doctor will check for the presence of cataracts or tumors in a child’s eye, which may not be caught during a vision screening. To learn more about children’s eyes, read our blog on Children’s Eye Health and Safety.

How often do I need to be seen?

If your eyes are determined to be healthy, your eye doctor will likely recommend that you have your eyes checked annually or every other year. People who have eye disease or risk factors for disease should be seen every year, or sometimes more often if recommended by an eye doctor. According to the CDC, some people have a greater risk for glaucoma and should be seen at least every other year:

African Americans 40 years and older
All adults older than 60, especially Mexican Americans
People with a family history of glaucoma

Eye exams are critical to maintaining healthy eyes and vision. If you have never had an eye exam, or it has been over a year since your last exam, you should schedule an eye exam at your earliest convenience. To make an appointment, call or text (907) 328-2920. Thank you for reading our blog, and be sure to read all of the entries on our website, www.mountianvieweyes.com.

Centers for Disease Control Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health https://www.cdc.gov/features/healthyvision/index.html

American Academy of Ophthalmology 20 Surprising Eye Problems an Eye Exam Can Catch, Written by Reena Mukimal, January 16, 2020 https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/surprising-health-conditions-eye-exam-detects

Written By: Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC

Posted in: Children's Eye Health, Eye Health Guide, Eyes, Patient Education

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2555 Phillips Field Rd – Fairbanks, AK 99709
Fax: 907-456-2914

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