How Often Should You Have Your Eyes Examined?

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woman with irritated eye

Our vision is a blessing that we tend to overlook—no pun intended—until we realize that we’re starting to lose it. Blurred vision can happen at any age, especially if you have a family history of vision problems. With age, our risk grows higher.

With eye examinations, early warning signs of eye diseases can be detected and treated immediately. There are different types of eye examinations, from basic ones such as refraction to more complex ones such as applanation tenometry, which is used to test for glaucoma signs. If you have a family history of glaucoma, getting regular eye tests is critical, as you may have a 20% risk of contracting the disease.

How Often Should I Get My Eyes Tested?

According to Prevent Blindness, African Americans aged 20 to 39 should get a complete eye exam every two to four years, whereas Caucasians of the same age range should get theirs every three to five years. For both African Americans and Caucasians aged 40 to 64, eye tests are recommended every two to four years. The frequency should increase for both races when they reach 65 years, every one to two years, to be exact.

A complete eye test or a dilated eye exam tests your eyes by widening your pupils through special eye drops. It is not typically done when you’re getting new eyeglasses or contact lenses, so you’d have to ask your eye doctor for it specifically.

African Americans are advised to be tested more frequently. Glaucoma is found to strike earlier and progress faster in their race. It is still currently unknown why the case is such. Some doctors even recommend eye tests every one to two years for African Americans older than 35 years old. Surgical treatment for glaucoma is available in Indiana and other states. If you suspect that you may have this eye condition, regardless of your race, don’t hesitate to approach professionals.

Types of Eye Exams

There are at least a dozen types of eye exams, including the complete eye test. Here are some of the others:

1. Refraction

This is the test given to people who are getting prescription glasses or lenses. You’ll be asked to look through an apparatus called the phoropter, and look at a chart that’s usually 20 feet across you. You’ll also be asked to put on a device where lenses are inserted until your doctor finds the right grade of lenses for your vision.

2. Visual Acuity Test

This tests how well you can read at various distances. It is also used on children, even to those who are unable to read yet. They only need to describe how the letters appear at varying distances.

3. Visual Field Test

This tests how well your peripheral vision is. You’ll be asked to stare at an object at your central line of vision and note when another object or line crosses your peripheral vision. Glaucoma can also be detected with this test.

4. Applanation Tonometry

Another test to detect glaucoma, applanation tonometry uses pressure to flatten the cornea. Special eye drops are also used to numb the eye before being pressed. Doctors will determine if there’s glaucoma through pressure readings.

5. Corneal Topography

during a check up

This is a computerized exam that maps the curve of the cornea. It may be done before a contact lens fitting, or to detect astigmatism and other eye injuries. People about to undergo a cornea transplant also get this test.

6. Slit-lamp Exam

This test helps diagnose glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, detached retina, cornea injuries, and dry eyes. A beam of light shaped like a slit will be aimed to the eye, and the pupils may also be dilated.

7. Ultrasound

An ultrasound may be necessary if you’re about to get surgery for cataracts. Ultrasound can also spot tumors, giving them chances to be treated.

No matter your age and race, always treat your eyes with care. Get eye examinations as prescribed by your doctor. Some diseases don’t manifest until their later stages, so prevent these costly problems by getting your eyes checked.

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