How frequently we should get an eye exam changes throughout the course of our lives. Here’s when you should be scheduling those eye doctor appointments, and everything else you need to know about that all-important vision checkup.

Getting regular comprehensive eye exams are a critical part of taking care of your overall health. We often think of eye exams as a necessary step to getting an updated prescription for our glasses or contact lenses, but the truth is, these exams are about much more than getting our vision tested.

To keep your eyes and your whole self healthy, follow these general guidelines.

Depending upon your particular vision, family history of eye diseases (such as glaucoma or macular degeneration), existing health conditions or risk factors, your eye doctor may recommend a different schedule.

For kids:

The American Optometric Association recommends babies have an eye exam before they are one year old.
Children should have another exam at least once between the ages of 3 and 5.
Once they enter school, have their eyes checked once a year through high school graduation.

For adults:

  • 20s and 30s: Every five to 10 years
  • 40 to 54: Every two to four years
  • 55 to 64: Every one to three years
  • 65 and older: Every one to two years

Even if you’ve had an eye exam in the recommended window, be sure to schedule a new appointment if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Dry, itchy, or red eyes
  • Seeing spots, floaters, or flashes of light
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Seeing circles or halos around lights
  • Straining or squinting to focus
  • Other changes in your vision

How frequently will I need a new prescription if I wear glasses or contacts?

Your prescription could change yearly, but on average, people replace their glasses every two years. If you wear glasses or contacts to correct vision problems, have your eyes checked more frequently.

Children can experience dramatic vision changes in a single year, so keep those eye exams current. An accurate prescription helps your kids perform better in all their activities, from school to sports to play.

What else does my eye doctor look for?

Eye health comprises so much more than vision, and whole-body health can be detected via a routine eye exam. Your eye doctor can uncover certain diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers, via an eye exam.

Your eye doctor will check that your entire visual system — from the brain’s visual cortex to the eyeball — is functioning just as it should.

He or she will also keep an eye out for life-altering eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. These can all cause permanent vision loss or blindness if left untreated.

Keeping on top of regular eye exams can help you prevent vision issues in the future. Schedule your next eye exam today.

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