9 Signs That You Need an Eye Exam
When should you get an eye exam? Everyone is not the same so it is important to follow the advice your eye care provider recommends. If you are unsure because you have not been to the eye doctor in a long time, here are seven signs that should send you to the eye doctor for an eye exam.
Unlike going to the dentist, it’s generally not necessary to see the eye doctor every 6 months for an eye exam.
Typically, a comprehensive eye exam every 2 years will ensure that your eyes stay healthy and your vision remains sharp. If you have a medical condition like diabetes or other ocular disorders, previous eye trauma or surgery, high prescriptions, a lazy eye, or a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration, you will need to have more frequent eye exams.
However, there are some signs and symptoms that should send you to the eye doctor for an eye exam — even if you aren’t due up for one. If you experience any of the nine symptoms below, you should schedule an eye exam as soon as possible, and in some cases, immediate medical attention is required.
1. Sudden Blurry Vision or Problems Focusing
Sudden blurry vision or focus problems can be a sign of a larger health issue and should always be taken seriously. If the blurry vision comes and goes, or is limited to one eye, you should schedule an exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
2. Sudden appearance of visual disturbances such as floaters, flashes of light, or obstruction of vision
Sudden onset of any of these visual disturbances could be a sign of a serious, vision-threatening disorder such as a retinal detachment, retinal tear, or retinal hole. Anyone who experiences these signs must seek immediate (within 24 hours, or sooner) medical attention by an optometrist, ophthalmologist or emergency room physician for proper diagnosis and treatment to minimize vision loss.
3. Gradual Blurring of Vision
This is the type of vision degradation that gradually happens over time. If you are noticing that you’re moving a book or the computer screen further away from your eyes than you use to to improve clarity, it’s probably time to get an eye exam. Same goes if you notice yourself sitting closer to the television or bring objects closer to you to read them (like a cereal box, for instance.)
Frequent headaches can be a sign of a vision problem. Changes in vision take place slowly and are often imperceptible to the patient at first. However, headaches can be one of the early warning signs of a change in vision. If you are experiencing re-occurring headaches, you may want to consider getting your eyes checked.
5. Eye Pain or Eye Fatigue/Strain
Having some infrequent eye pain or eye strain isn’t usually a big problem. Everything from the amount of sleep your getting to seasonal allergies, or the cold or flu can cause temporary eye pain or fatigue. However, if you experience ongoing eye pain for more than a few days, or if you experience ongoing eye pain with eye movements, it’s a good idea to get it checked out. It can sometimes be a sign of an eye infection or more serious health condition, or even a warning sign that your vision has changed. Get it checked out.
Frequent squinting is the quintessential sign that it’s probably time for an eye exam. We squint when we’re having difficulties seeing because the act of squinting reduces extraneous light entering the eye and reduces light scattering, improving vision. This is often one of the first signs in children that they may need eyeglasses. In addition, squinting coupled with an eye turn, more commonly called a “lazy eye”, is a definite red flag that a comprehensive vision exam is in order. This is especially true in children, and if not detected and treated early enough, permanent vision loss may result. If you notice yourself squinting more than usual, schedule an eye exam.
7. Sensitivity to Light
A sudden onset of sensitivity to light can be a sign that you should get an eye exam. Light sensitivity can be a symptom of a number of disorders or eye diseases (as well as an eye infection.) So if you find yourself regularly experiencing light sensitivity, get an eye exam.
8. An Eye Infection
If you experience swelling of the eyelids, itchiness, redness, a pink discoloration of the whites of your eyes, and/or discharge, you may have an eye infection. If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule an eye exam immediately to have it looked at.
9. One Bonus: If You Haven’t Had an Eye Exam in the Past Two Years
If you haven’t had a full eye exam in the past two years, you should schedule one — especially if you are over the age of 40. It is important to note that for some people, an exam sooner than every two years is critical to ensuring your eyes stay healthy.
Natural changes in the eyes associated with age makes more frequent eye exams necessary as you grow older, especially if you haven’t had one in a few years.
Even if you are between the ages of 20 and 40, an eye exam is an important part of maintaining your vision and overall health. Eye exams can often reveal developing health issues that aren’t easily found even with a physical by a family doctor. Children may require eye exams every year or sooner, as their vision changes rapidly with growth. So get those peepers checked and please remember to follow your eye doctor’s recommendations for follow-up visits and annual exams!