When You Should “See” About Getting an Exam

Your eyes are important to everything you do. But they’re often taken for granted. It’s regular and expected to meet with a physician whenever anything doesn’t feel right with our bodies, so why don’t we take this precaution with our eyes? Eye check-ups are important for everyone! We want to help you understand when to get an eye checkup, whether it’s routine or for a special scenario:

How Often You Should Schedule a Routine Appointment

eye-chartIt’s easy to forget to schedule routine eye appointments if everything feels fine with your eyes. But sometimes things are happening that we won’t notice right away, but that an optometrist or opthamologist do. Here are some guidelines that the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggest for making eye appointments:

  • Children need their eyes checked at birth, at 6 months old, at 3 years old, and before entering grade school.
  • Young adults should get their eyes checked once in their 20s and twice in their 30s.
  • Adults should get their eyes checked at 40 with regular follow-ups.
  • Adults aged 65 and older should get their eyes checked every 1-2 years.

What Else Warrants an Eye Check-Up

The above guidelines are basic and don’t take individual situations into account. If your eyes seem normal and nothing is bothering you, then the above guidelines should work for you. There are many things, though, that would warrant a trip to your eye doctor.

  • Sudden Changes in Vision
    Any sudden or quick change in vision should be checked and treated as soon as possible with your eye doctor, before the condition could possibly worsen. Some examples of these sudden changes are blurring, distortion, double vision, blind spots, increased light sensitivity, or new floaters.
  • Change in the Physical Appearance of Eyes
    If you notice that your eyes look different or are physically acting differently, you may want to consider getting an eye exam. Some examples of changes in the physical appearance of your eyes are red eyes, discharge, droopy lids, soreness, or swelling that doesn’t go down.
  • optometrist-91751_640Any Trauma to the Eye or Head
    Of course if you have any sort of trauma to your eye, you would need to get it checked out immediately. What doesn’t get thought of often, though, is the effect that head trauma can have on the eyes. If you have any sort of head injury, you should think about also getting your eyes checked out.
  • Health Diagnoses That Affect Eyes
    The eyes are connected to a lot of different parts of your body and, thus, often other diseases can affect the eyes and should result in more frequent eye exams. The biggest example of this is diabetes. Without regular checkups and maintenance, the effects of diabetes can eventually result in blindness. Another disease that can affect your eyes is high blood pressure. Be sure to ask your doctor if your current health situation will affect your eyes in any way.
  • Family History of Eye Diseases
    Eye diseases can be passed genetically and, therefore, if your family has a history of eye diseases—like glaucoma, macular degeneration, or corneal diseases, for instance—you should have more regular eye exams. 

Determining What Kind of Eye Doctor You Need

optometrist-91750_640The term “eye doctor” is actually a vague one and includes three different types of eye specialists: ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. These dreaded o-words sound confusing and are easily mixed-up. Let’s clear up what each kind of eye doctor is so you can best decide who can help you with your eye needs.

  • Ophthalmologists have an M.D. degree, which requires four years of medical school, three years of residency, and usually two years of specialization. Ophthalmologists can perform eye surgeries, such as cataract removals or LASIK. Besides surgeries, they can provide complete eye check-ups.
  • Optometrists have an O.D. degree, which requires four years of postgraduate doctoral training. These are not medical doctors but instead have doctoral degrees. They can perform comprehensive eye exams and prescribe glasses or contact lenses.
  • Opticians don’t need a degree in most states (some require a 1-2 year certification degree and license). They can dispense and make adjustments or repairs to eyeglasses.

Overall, if anything happens that is out of the ordinary to your eyes, you need to get an eye exam as soon as you can by an eye doctor.

Web Logo-02At Williamson Eye Institute, we are committed to preserving and protecting our patients’ eye health throughout their lives. To find out more, visit our website or call our office to schedule a personal consultation. You can also find us on Facebook and LinkedIn.