Routine eye exams are an important aspect of maintaining one's overall health. As with an annual physical or dental exam, it is extremely important to have your eyes examined regularly. Regardless of how great your eyesight is, scheduling regular eye exams is a great way to stay on top of your overall health and catch potential risks for eye disease early.
Adults should have an eye exam every 1-2 years, depending on any existing vision problems, eye conditions or risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, previous eye injuries or family history. The doctor will recommend a frequency for comprehensive eye exams based on the patient’s medical history. Adults older than 60 should have an eye exam each year, as age-related eye problems are more common.
It may be important to see an optometrist more frequently if you are experiencing any of the following:
Blurry vision or loss of vision.
Difficulty seeing things near and/or far away.
Flashing light in the eye.
Floaters, or small spots that appear in vision.
While eye exams are important for one's vision, routine eye exams can also help to identify a variety of problems ranging from cognitive decline to diabetes. Since the eye is an extension of the brain and the only part of the body where blood vessels and tissue are visible, it allows an optometrist to detect warning signs of the early stages of different health problems, such as diabetes. Additionally, there are many other health problems that may be detected during an eye exam such as autoimmune disorders and brain tumors, which can cause swelling of the optic nerve.
Skin cancer on the eyelid is another health risk as the eyelid is very sensitive to ultraviolet rays and may be one of the first places affected by different types of skin cancers. Any spots or affected areas may be detected before skin cancer can spread to other parts of the body.