Do you regularly go to the doctor or dentist for checkups? What about the eye doctor? When it comes to preventative health appointments, the importance of eye exams is often overlooked.
Regular eye exams performed by qualified optometrists are crucial for the early detection of eye diseases and maximising your eye sight to meet the visually challenging demands of the environment today.
It is a common fallacy that unless you have unclear vision, your eyes are fine, and you do not need to visit your eye doctor. Many eye problems can be detected and remedied well before negatively impacting sight. There are several reasons regular eye exams are vital for your overall well-being.
The Power of Prevention – Over 50% of vision loss can be prevented. Regular eye exams can have vision-saving results for children as well as adults. Do not wait until you are experiencing vision problems to have a comprehensive examination.
Screenings are not Enough – Many parents believe the standard vision screening takes the place of a visit to the eye doctor. However, the notion is untrue. The screenings children have at school help to detect obvious eye problems and are not in-depth enough to take the place of an examination.
Glaucoma – This invasive disease comes with no warning that your eyes are unhealthy until it has advanced to the degree that it is difficult to control. Regular eye exams that include a painless pressure test can detect glaucoma in the early stages when you have the best chance to combat the disease successfully.
Learn About More than Eye Health – Eye exams detect significant health problems in people who believe they are in good health. Eye examinations can alert patients to severe health problems like diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and high blood pressure are easily detected during comprehensive eye exams.
A Myopia Epidemic – The number of children with myopia (shortsightedness) is rapidly growing. Estimates say nearly 15 per cent of kids in Australia and New Zealand have eye disease. Myopia is treatable, but the most successful treatments happen after early detection during an eye exam. If left undiagnosed and untreated, childhood myopia leads to several problems later in life—these include cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.
What Does An Eye Exam Involve?
During a comprehensive eye exam, you can expect:
Questions about your medical history
Visual acuity (sharpness) checks
Prescription for corrective lenses
Binocular vision: such as depth perception, eye alignment and eye movement checks
Management and recommendations for dry eyes
Assessments for colour vision if warranted
Eye pressure checks
Checking the front and back of the eye, including your macula and optic nerve
Screening for eye conditions such as glaucoma, hypertensive retinopathy, macular degeneration, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy
Eye drops to make your pupils larger to help detect signs of other health issues
Field of vision check
The Benefits of Early Treatment For Eye Conditions
Eye diseases are common and can have no symptoms at first, making it possible for them to go unnoticed without an exam.
Diabetic retinopathy (this conditon cause damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye and can lead to blindness)
Glaucoma (diseases that can damage the optic nerve)
Cataracts (cloudiness of the lens)
Age-related macular degeneration (a gradual breakdown of tissue in the eye that is extremely important for central vision, such as recognizing faces)
Should Children Get Eye Exams?
Though vision issues tend to appear more often in adults, children need regular eye exams too. Vision is responsible for 80% of all learning during a child’s first 12 years of life, making it crucial for children to be evaluated early and regularly for eye conditions.
Amblyopia, a condition where vision is reduced because the brain and eyes are not working together properly, is the most common cause of vision loss among children. It must be treated as soon as possible to prevent vision loss.
Myopia (nearsightedness) has doubled in 12-year-old children in Australia in just 6 years.
Keeping your child’s vision healthy can help them meet their full potential when it comes to social, emotional, and physical development.
Reasons To See Your Eye Doctor
Along with routine vision exams, it is also important to contact your eye doctor if you experience:
Redness of the eye
Drainage from the eye
Decreased vision or changes in vision
Floaters (tiny specks that seem to float in front of your eyes)
Flashes of light
Black spots in your vision
Halos around lights
What Is the Difference Between Vision Screenings and Eye Exams?
Vision screenings are quick assessments performed by nurses or volunteers to check for major vision issues or abnormal visual acuity.
These screenings usually involve identifying rows of increasingly small letters from 20 feet away. If an individual tests lower than a 20/40 level, they receive a referral to an eye professional for further evaluation and treatment.
Comprehensive eye exams are performed by optometrists and involve a an in-depth evaluation of your eye health and vision check for serious issues such as:
Receiving regular eye exams can help detect eye issues at the earliest stage when they are most treatable.
How Often Should Eye Exams Be Scheduled?
How often you need an eye exam will depend on your age, family history, health, and any symptoms you may be experiencing.
Here are some general recommendations for how often you should be evaluated by an eye doctor:
Children should receive an initial eye evaluation by an optometrist, ophthalmologist, or paediatrician between 6 and 12 months of age
Children should be screened at least once between age 3 and 5 to detect amblyopia or risk factors for the disease
Children should receive regular vision and eye health screenings throughout childhood to help recognise abnormalities and ensure proper eye development
School aged children should receive ocular alignment evaluations and vision screening every 1 to 2 years
Individuals with diabetes should undergo a dilated eye exam every year
Adults up to age 65 should have their eyes checked every 1 to 3 years
Depending on family history and medical history, more regular eye exams will be recommended if there are eye conditions to monitor or look out for
Adults aged 65 and above should have an eye exam every year
If you are unsure of whether you or a family member is due for an eye exam, please feel free to contact our team.
Stephanie is an owner optometrist, researcher and educator. She has held clinical, teaching and research roles in Australia and overseas, and has extensive training and clinical experience. Stephanie is also the head optometrist at E Eye Place, on top of this, she is also currently a PhD candidate at UNSW. Dr Stephanie Yeo Optometrist BOptom (HC1) GradCertOcTher DOPT (Merit) CO Ophthalmic Medicines Prescriber.