The Importance of Looking After Your Eyes

Eye exams are not just for getting prescriptions for eye glasses or contact lenses. Routine checkups are important in protecting the health of your eyes and your overall health.

“It’s very sad when I see someone lose vision permanently to a condition that could have been observed and prevented with a routine eye exam,” says Dr. Ryan Rich, Director of Optometry Services at VCC.  “The best advice I can give is make sure to have routine eye exams, even if you feel there is nothing wrong with your vision.”

Dr. Rich answers questions on the importance of regular eye exams.

  • How often should adults have an eye exam?

It’s best to check with your eye doctor on how frequently you should be having routine eye exams.  In general, adults with no health issues should have eye exams every one to two years.  Anyone who has a history of diabetes, hypertension, or any other systemic condition should have their eyes examined every year and sometimes more frequently, depending on the condition of their eyes.

  • How often should children have their eyes examined?

In the absence of obvious visual issues like squinting and eye turn, the American Optometric Association recommends the first eye exam at age six months and subsequent checkups when the child turns three; just before starting first grade; and every one to two years thereafter.

  • What are the benefits of routine eye care?

Besides getting an updated prescription for glasses or contact lenses, a routine eye exam may reveal an eye disease or eye condition with no obvious symptoms.  There are many eye diseases/conditions that are treatable, and if caught in time, may prevent permanent vision loss.

  • Which eye problems can be detected by the exam?

Eye problems that may be detected during a routine eye exam range from the need for glasses, to serious eye conditions that can cause permanent vision damage. These include macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic/hypertensive retinopathy, retinal detachment, and viral, bacterial and allergic infections.

  • What does the eye exam reveal about the patient’s overall health?

You eye doctor can get a good idea of your overall health by examining the back of your eyes during your routine eye exam. Most systemic diseases like diabetes and hypertension manifest in one way or another, in your eyes!  There is no way to rule out these conditions during an eye exam, but your eye doctor will be able to tell you if you have damage in your eyes due to your underlying condition.