You understand the importance of seeing your physician and dentist on a regular basis, but when was the last time you paid your optometrist a visit? While vision screenings may be available through your employer or local organizations within your community, they can’t substitute for a comprehensive eye exam.
So, what’s the difference between a vision screening and an eye exam? Vision screenings test your visual acuity, or the sharpness of your vision. This is the type of basic test you undergo when renewing your driver’s license, for example. These tests occur outside of an eye doctor’s office, and while they’re helpful in determining the clarity of your vision, vision screenings are ineffective when it comes to detecting more subtle, and sometimes serious, vision abnormalities and eye diseases.
As Gary Heiting, OD, and senior editor of AllAboutVision.com states, “Eye exams, on the other hand, are performed by licensed eye doctors (an optometrist or ophthalmologist) and evaluate not only your visual acuity, but also the complete health of your eyes, from front to back — including checking for early signs of serious eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and detached retina.” Early treatment of these common diseases is critical to protecting your vision and preventing blindness.
The eyes also act as a window to overall health. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, eye doctors are able to get a clear view of blood vessels, arteries, connecting tissue and your cranial nerve through your eyes. As a result, they may also be able to detect early signs of other health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, brain bleed, head trauma, tumors and risk of stroke.
Since the risk of developing any of these conditions increases with age, it’s important to have your eyes examined regularly. Below are the American Optometric Association’s guidelines for scheduling eye exams:
- One at age 6 months
- One at age 3
- One at age 5 or 6 – before entering first grade and every two years thereafter
- One every two years for ages 18 to 60
- One every year for ages 61 and over
Please note that your medical history may require more frequent examinations as recommended by your eye doctor.
Don’t wait until you notice a significant change in your vision. Call our office and book your comprehensive eye exam today!