Regardless of age or physical health, it is important for everyone to have regular eye examinations. A complete eye exam will determine not only your prescription for glasses or contacts, but also checks your eyes for common eye diseases, assesses how your eyes work together and evaluates your eyes as an indicator for your overall health.
Why Should You Get Your Eyes Examined?
An eye exam is one of the best ways to protect your vision because it can detect eye problems at their earliest stage – when they’re most treatable. Regular eye exams give your eye doctor a chance to help you correct or adapt to vision changes. Even if you think your eyes are healthy, you still need an eye exam from time to time.
Children 5 Years and Younger
•New-born to 3 months
•6 months to 1 year
Some factors may put your child at increased risk for eye disease. If any of these factors apply to your child, check with your eye doctor to see how often you should have a medical eye exam:
•Personal or family history of eye disease
•Previous serious eye injury
•Use of certain medications (check with you eye doctor)
•Some diseases that affect the whole body (such as diabetes or HIV infection)
School-Age Children and Adolescents
Have your child’s vision checked before he or she enters first grade. If your child has no symptoms of vision problems and don’t have a family history of vision problems, have your child’s vision rechecked every two years. Talk to your child’s eye doctor about what check-up schedule is best for your child.
If you don’t wear glasses or contacts, have no symptoms of eye trouble, don’t have a family history of eye disease and you don’t have a chronic disease, such as diabetes, that puts you at risk of eye disease, have an eye exam at the following intervals:
If you do wear glasses or contacts, you’ll need to have your eyes checked yearly. And if you notice any problems with your vision, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible. Blurred vision, for example, may suggest you need a prescription change. A sudden increase in the number of floaters (dark circles darting through your vision) could suggest vision-threatening changes to your retina.
Simple Tips for Healthy Eyes
Your eyes are an important part of your health. There are many things you can do to keep them healthy and make sure you are seeing your best. Follow these simple steps for maintaining healthy eyes well into your golden years.
Know your family’s eye health history
Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary. This information will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.
Eat right to protect your sight
You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too.1 Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor.
Wear protective eyewear
Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores.
Quit smoking or never start
Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.
Be cool and wear your shades
Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.
Give your eyes a rest
If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can help reduce eyestrain.
Clean your hands and your contact lenses— properly
To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. Make sure to disinfect contact lenses as instructed and replace them as appropriate.
Practice workplace eye safety
Employers are required to provide a safe work environment. When protective eyewear is required as a part of your job, make a habit of wearing the appropriate type at all times and encourage your co-workers to do the same.