When was the last time you went to the eye doctor? A yearly eye exam is critical to preventing vision loss and catching conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration early on. Most people should schedule a dilated eye exam every two years. However, certain risk factors, like diabetes and high blood pressure, require more frequent exams.
Age-Related Eye Diseases
Several eye diseases become more common as you age. Some are minor nuisances, while others can cause serious vision loss if not detected and treated early by an eye doctor near me.
One of the most common is age-related macular degeneration, which robs your central vision and can cause blind spots. Another is cataracts, which cause blurry or cloudy vision. Other symptoms include glare from sunlight or headlights and difficulty seeing in dim light.
Another major threat is glaucoma, which causes eye pressure to build up and eventually damage your optic nerve. The disease doesn’t usually show early symptoms, so you need a regular, dilated exam to detect it.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve becomes damaged and can lead to blind spots. It typically develops slowly, often without symptoms, and is caused by increased pressure in the eye. Your doctor can detect this disease by doing a thorough eye exam. She may use medicated eye drops to widen your pupils (dilate them). She will then shine a light into your eyes and measure the thickness of your cornea.
If you have glaucoma, your eye doctor will recommend regular visits every six to twelve months. This will allow her to monitor your condition and ensure it is controlled.
If you notice that you are squinting to read or holding things far away to see, this indicates that you should schedule an eye exam. These comprehensive exams check much more than your glasses or contact lenses prescription.
Your doctor may test your vision by shining a light at the front of your eye and having you look at an Amsler grid, a pattern of straight lines that looks like a checkerboard. If the lines appear wavy or missing, it could signify macular degeneration.
Diabetes damages blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). If left untreated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness. Regular eye exams help spot problems early when they’re easy to treat.
People with diabetes should have a comprehensive, dilated eye exam at least once a year. This includes drops that widen (dilate) the pupils to view the retina better. Your doctor will look for leaking or abnormal blood vessels, macular edema, and retinal detachment.
Women with diabetes should have an eye exam in their first trimester of pregnancy and then regularly throughout the rest of the pregnancy. This helps prevent diabetic retinopathy that can occur during gestational diabetes.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Though it doesn’t have a cure, dry eye syndrome can be managed by avoiding irritants such as cigarette smoke and low humidity, using a humidifier in the home, wearing wraparound sunglasses outside, and taking frequent breaks when working at the computer. A dietary supplement of omega-3 fatty acids may also help decrease symptoms.
Most individuals should have an annual eye exam, but those with certain health conditions and family history should see their doctor more often. If you have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes, that contributes to dry eye symptoms, follow your provider’s advice for managing that condition.
A routine eye exam should be part of your schedule when wearing contact lenses. An eye exam can help detect early signs of eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. A doctor will use eye drops to dilate the pupil so they can have a clearer view of your eyes.
Many contact lens wearers also need a contact lens fitting. This can be combined with a comprehensive eye exam or done separately. A fitting can also be used to check for any changes in prescription. People with certain health and eye conditions may need to see their optometrist more frequently.
Eye exams help detect eye diseases and vision problems that often do not have any symptoms at first. This allows for quicker treatment, thus increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome and avoiding worsening symptoms. During an exam, your doctor will measure how sharp your vision is at a distance and up close by shining a light into your eyes. They will also ask you about your family medical history and what medicines you take.