The short answer to this question is yes, and the reasons vary depending on age. The ability to see is important to most aspects of an individual’s life, determining whether someone is able to participate fully in society. When young, children depend on visual skills for reading and learning, and also for interacting with other individuals in a social environment. As people age, they need to be able to see to perform many tasks.
While no one would deliberately commit an act to destroy one’s own sight, people often fail to do simple things to protect themselves. Even though people generally know that eye exams detect vision loss, and can reveal and prevent the progression of serious eye diseases, they are often still negligent when it comes to taking care of their vision. One study found that 86% of adults who already knew they had an eye disease failed to get an annual exam. With an aging population, up to 61 million Americans may be at real risk of losing a significant part of their vision.
What do eye exams consist of?
The first thing the eye doctor will do is ask for a medical history, so any relevant conditions will be noted. You will then take a test to see what your vision level currently is to make sure you don’t need vision correction.
The doctor may numb your eyes, or dilate them as part of a testing procedure. It is vital to measure your eye pressure because this signals potential problems. The doctor will also examine your eyes with bright lights, checking carefully to make sure your eyes look healthy.
Most people only think of being evaluated for wearing corrective lenses, but the eye doctor also performs many other checks that can signal other serious health problems.
What are the different guidelines by age?
With children under 5, the pediatrician will look for obvious problems. There should be a more comprehensive exam before entering school. During school years, exams should take place every year or two, or more frequently if the child has problems like headaches which might be caused by reading.
Adults should generally have their eyes checked every year or two, although the necessity is not as great in early adulthood unless there are problems. As they get older, screening for diseases becomes more important.
Even with these basic guidelines, there are still some instances when it may be wise to get eye exams more often. If you wear contact lenses or glasses, you will need to visit every year. Anyone with a family history of eye disease should be extra vigilant, as should someone with a condition like diabetes which makes you at great risk of serious problems with your eyes.