One of the questions we get most often is from people wondering how often they should get their eyes checked. Most eye care experts recommend that you have a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years. For many people, the how often you need to do this can vary based on age, other risk factors and whether or not you are currently wearing contact lenses.
One group that needs to be screened regularly are children. For many kids most information is given visually in school, so the ability to be able to see and interpret this information is really important to their learning and development. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), children generally should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age, another exam at age three and again at the start of school. Risk-free children should then continue to have their eyes examined every two years until age 18. Certain risk factors like a premature birth, developmental delays, issues with turned or crossed eyes, a family history of eye disease or other physical illnesses or disease are things that can require more frequent eye exams. We can provide screenings for children who know their letters, but it is best for younger kids to see a doctor who has proper equipment to serve the little ones. Also, for kids who are already in glasses, they should have their eyes checked once a year as well. Prescription changes can happen quickly for kids who are still growing, so it is important to have their vision screened regularly.
Adults have similar recommendations for comprehensive eye exams. The AOA also recommends an exam every two years for adults ages 18-60 for low risk patients. For those above 60 years old, they recommend an exam every year. For adults ages 18-60 who have risk factors like a family history of eye disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, any medication that can have eye related side effects or any sort of history of eye injuries or surgery should have their eyes checked at least once a year as well. Doctors may recommend more often depending on the severity of the risk factor.
Another group that should also see an eye doctor once a year are contact lens wearers. Contacts lenses need to be checked regularly to make sure that there are no issues caused by the wear of contact lens wear. Also, the fit of contact lenses should be checked regularly as well.
The other question we frequently get is what kind of doctor should each patient see?
There are three different kinds of eye care professionals: ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. Who you should see depends on your needs.
Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye care. They see patients, prescribe glasses, contacts and medicine, but can also do eye surgeries as well. They have attended medical school and have additional training in medical and surgical eye care. Optometrists also are eye doctors who can prescribe glasses, contacts and medicine to treat eye problems. They attend school for four years after college and become a Doctor of Optometry. In most cases, Optometrists do not preform surgery. Lastly, Opticians are the third in this eye care group. They are eye care professionals who fit, adjust and repair glasses. Many Opticians can also help patients with learning how to put in, take out and care for their contacts. There are some that also have training in refracting and fitting contact lenses.
Again, if you have questions or concerns, contact our office at 405-341-6941!