August, as National Eye Exam Month, is a great time to think about having your eyes tested.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 11 million Americans over the age of 12 years would see better if they used any corrective lenses or had any eye surgery they might be in need of.
“About 80% of blindness is avoidable (preventable or curable), and 90% of the world's blind live in a developing country,” reported Lighthouse international.
One way to protect your own and your loved ones’ eye health is to have an eye examination. Eye exams are the best way to find out if you need glasses or contacts, or if you are in the early stages of any eye-related diseases.
According to the American Optometric Association, children should have their first eye exam when they are 6 months old, another exam when they are 3 years old, and then do it again at the start of school. Children deemed to be risk-free should continue to have their eyes examined every two years until the age of 18.
Children with risk factors for vision problems, like premature birth or family history of eye disease, may need their first eye exam before they are 6 months old. They may also need more frequent eye exams throughout childhood.
For those between the ages of 18-60, the AOA recommends a comprehensive eye exam every two years, and annual exams for those 61 and older.
However, if you have one of the health issues below, you should have your eyes checked annually.
• Wear contacts as an adult
• High blood pressure
• A family history of eye disease (glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc.)
• A visually demanding occupation
• An occupation that may pose hazards to the eyes
• Taking prescription or non-prescription drugs that may have visual or eye-related side effects
• Previous eye injuries or eye surgery
Starting at the age of 60, an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam is recommended to keep your eyes healthy.
“African Americans are advised to start having comprehensive dilated eye exams starting at age 40 because of their higher risk of glaucoma. It is especially important for those with diabetes to have a comprehensive dilated exam at least once a year,” according to the National Eye Institute.
During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, your eye care professional will use drops to widen the pupils. The dilation process checks for common vision problems and eye diseases.
Also, you should schedule an appointment immediately with your eye doctor if you have any of the following issues:
• Double vision
• Eye Drainage
• Decreased vision
• Eye pain
• Eye redness
• Floaters (tiny specks that move before your eyes)
• If you see circles or halos around light sources
• If you see flashes of light
"Healthy Vision: Make It Last a Lifetime." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 06 May 2014. Web. 02 Aug. 2015.
"Comprehensive Eye and Vision Examination." Comprehensive Eye and Vision Examination. Web. 02 Aug. 2015.
Prevalence of Vision Impairment. Lighthouse International. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
What is a comprehensive dilated eye exam? NEI The National Institutes of Health. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
Reviewed August 3, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith