Recommended Intervals for Regular Eye Exams
If you have any of these risk factors for eye problems, you may need to see your Eye M.D. more often than recommended below:
- Family history of eye problems
- African American over age 40
- History of eye injury.
There are four types of refractive error
- Myopia (nearsightedness): Close objects look clear, but distant objects appear blurred.
- Hyperopia (farsightedness): Where distant objects will look clear but close objects are blurry
- Astigmatism: Vision is blurred for both near and far objects.
- Presbyopia: The eyes gradually lose the ability to change focus from distance to near.
Before Age 3
Since it is possible for your child to have a serious vision problem without being aware of it, your child should have his or her eyes screened during regular pediatric appointments. Vision testing is recommended for all children starting around 3 years of age.
If there is a family history of vision problems or if your child appears to have any of the following conditions speak to your Eye M.D. promptly about when and how often your child's eyes should be examined:
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid)
Age 3 to 19
To ensure your child or teenager's eyes remain healthy, he or she should have his or her eyes screened every one to two years during regular pediatric or family physician check-up appointments.
Age 20 to 39
Most young adults have healthy eyes, but they still need to take care of their vision by wearing protective eyewear when playing sports, doing yard work, working with chemicals, or taking part in other activities that could cause an eye injury.
Have a complete eye exam at least once between the ages of 20 and 29 and at least twice between the ages of 30 and 39.
Also, be aware of symptoms that could indicate a problem. See an Eye M.D. if you experience any eye conditions, such as:
- Visual changes or pain
- Flashes of light
- Seeing spots or ghost-like images
- Lines appear distorted or wavy
- Dry eyes with itching and burning
Age 40 to 64
As of July 2007, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has issued a new eye disease screening recommendation for aging adults.
The Academy now recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40—the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. Based on the results of the initial screening, an ophthalmologist will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams.
For individuals at any age with symptoms of or at risk for eye disease, such as those with a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, the Academy recommends that individuals see their ophthalmologist to determine how frequently their eyes should be examined.
Why the New Recommendation?
A baseline evaluation is important because it may detect eye diseases common in adults aged 40 and older. The evaluation creates greater opportunity for early treatment and preservation of vision.
A thorough ophthalmologic evaluation can uncover common abnormalities of the visual system and related structures, as well as less common but extremely serious ones, such as ocular tumors. This evaluation can also uncover evidence of many forms of systemic disease that affect the eyes, like hypertension and diabetes. With appropriate intervention, potentially blinding diseases such as glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy often have a favorable outcome.
Several common eye diseases can impact people 40 and older without them knowing there is any problem with their eyes.
Age 65 and Over
Seniors age 65 and over should have complete eye exams by their Eye M.D. every one to two years to check for cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions.