5 Signs that you might need an eye exam

You have your annual check up. You see your dentist regularly. You supposedly have your health care checks under control. But is seeing your optometrist on that list?

You have your annual check up. You see your dentist regularly. You supposedly have your health care checks under control.  But is seeing your optometrist on that list?

Regular exams keep your vision strong, but they also detect eye diseases early — many of which can go unnoticed for a long time.

During an eye exam, an optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye specialist) will check your:

Visual acuity:  How clearly you can see

Eye alignment:  Where each eye is looking when you focus on one spot

Eye movement:  How your muscles move your eyes around

They'll also look inside your eyes to check for signs of eye diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration or glaucoma, or other health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

Whether your eye exam serves to help you see more clearly or to monitor your risk for eye diseases, it's difficult to argue the benefit of getting your eyes examined.

Depending on your age, health history and even gender, recommendations for how often you should see your doctor may differ.

Here are five signs you might need an eye exam:

1. You Can't Remember When You Had Your Last Eye Exam

If you don't know the last time you had a thorough eye exam, it's probably been a while. Many eye diseases have no symptoms at first.  They might even go unnoticed and continue to worsen over time. A screening can help getting treated sooner and avoid a worst-case scenario.

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for treating common eye disease, such as:

        Cararacts: the clouding of the lenses in your eyes, which can lead to vision loss

        Diabetic retinopathy: damage to blood vessels in the back of your eyes, which can cause blindness

        Glaucoma: a disease that damages your optic nerves

        Age-related macular degeneration: gradual loss of retinal pigment in your eyes


So, how often should you have an eye exam? That depends on your age and other risk factors.

If you have no risk factors, ask your doctor if every two years is sufficient. Once you turn 65, talk to your doctor about bumping that up to every year. If you have other risk factors, such as a family history of eye disease, you'll need to go to the eye doctor annually, no matter your age.

2. You Have A High Risk for Eye Diseases

Just like with any other aspect of your health, there are certain things that can increase your risk of developing eye diseases — some of which are out of your control. You should ask about having your eyes checked every year if you:

        Have a personal or family history of eye disease, including cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or macular degeneration

        Are African American or Mexican American

        Have diabetes, which can lead to diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or cataracts

        Have a job that's visually demanding, such as using the computer all day

        Wear contact lenses

        Have had eye surgery or an eye injury in the past

        Have eyesight that continues to worsen over time

3. Your Vision is Getting Worse

If you're struggling a little more to read the signs on the road or the text on this screen, that's a good reason to go see your eye doctor. Some have trouble seeing far away (nearsightedness), and others struggle to see close up (farsightedness).

Vision problems can make it difficult to go about your daily routine — but eye strain can also cause headaches. This happens when your eyes aren't focusing as they should, causing them to work harder than normal. Usually, a headache caused by eye strain will occur after you use your eyes for an extended period of time, such as reading, working on the computer or even sewing.

4. You Have Allergies

If your eyes are red and irritated — but you don't see anything in them — you might have allergies. You may not even get the tell-tale signs of sneezing, sniffing or stuffy nose, but you may have eye allergies if you are experiencing:




        Clear, watery discharge

Eye allergies can be caused by:

        Outdoor allergens, such as grass, trees and weeds

        Indoor allergens, such as pet dander, mold and dust mites

        Irritants, such as smoke or perfume

Depending on the severity, your eye doctor might recommend you use over-the-counter or prescription eye drops and medications. They may also refer you to an allergist, a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies.

5. You're Having Other Eye Problems

If you feel like something might be wrong with your eyes, don't wait until your next appointment. You may be experiencing early signs of eye disease or eye infection or injury.

Listen to your body — if you're concerned about your eye health, make an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible.

Other reasons to see your eye doctor may include:

        Draining or redness in on or both eyes

        Eye pain

        Double vision

        Floaters (tiny specks that seem to be floating before your eyes)

        Circles or halos around lights

        Flashes of light

Keeping Your Eyes Healthy Between Exams

Beyond getting your eyes checked regularly, there are simple ways to maintain your eye health:

        Eating a healthy diet, including leafy greens like spinach and kale

        Maintaining a healthy weight

        Wearing sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of harmful UV-A and UV-B radiation from the sun

        Quitting smoking — or not starting at all

        Following the 20-20-20 rule if you spend a lot of time focusing on a screen — every 20 minutes, look about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds

Healthy eyes are an essential part of your overall health. By keeping up with regular eye exams and maintaining your eye health, you could be saving yourself vision and health problems in the near future and for years to come.


Source: https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2019/october/5-signs-you-might-need-an-eye-exam