There are two misconceptions about eye examination. One is that if you can see well, you do not need an eye examination. The other one is that “vision test “– which measures visual acuity by using a special panel (such as vision tests that are performed when getting a driver's license) - is another name for eye examination. But it should be noted that in fact, the ophthalmologist not only tests your vision, but also examines your eyes to detect other diseases that may not have early signs, but require early treatment. Therefore a complete eye examination is so much more than a vision test
Who Should Undergo an Eye Exam?
Regardless of age and physical health, everyone should have regular eye examinations on a periodic basis. In adults, eye examinations is important for correct prescription for eyeglasses and premature diagnosis of diseases. In children, eye examinations play an important role In Childhood vision development. Since vision is closely linked to the learning process, the importance of periodic examinations in children is doubled.
Vision problems in children, sometimes show itself in poor academic performance and trouble with their homework. In most cases, children don’t complain of vision problems because they don't know what "normal" vision looks like. If your child performs poorly at school or has reading or learning problems, He or she should definitely be examined to ensure there is no eye problem.
What Should to Expect in a Checkup Eye Exam?
Some problems that the ophthalmologist will be looking for:
- Refractive errors: including farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism…
- Amblyopia: This occurs in severe Strabismus or when one eye has a much different prescription than the other. The brain will block the image from the affected eye. If left untreated, amblyopia can stunt the visual development of the affected eye, resulting in permanent vision impairment. Amblyopia is often treated by patching the unaffected eye for periods of time.
- Strabismus: The ophthalmologist will check patient’s eyes to be sure that they are aligned and working together in harmony. Strabismus can cause problems with depth perception and can lead to amblyopia.
- Eye Diseases: Many eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, have no obvious symptoms in their early stages. The ophthalmologist will check for signs of these diseases and if he detects them, he will start the early treatments. In most cases, early detection and treatment of eye diseases can help reduce the risk for permanent vision loss.
- Other Diseases: Examining the eye's blood vessels, retina and so forth can detect non ocular diseases such as developing high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or some other problems.
How often should You Have an Eye Exam?
Ophthalmologists recommend that, depending on risk factor and physical health, every individual should have a complete eye examination every 1 to 3 years.
Children: It is estimated that out of every 20 preschool children and every 4 elementary school children, 1 child has eye problems which, if not treated, can result in a permanent loss of vision. Children have no symptoms and have a low risk be completely examined in the first 6 months, 3 years and before entering school. Then these children should be examined every two years.
But in children with risk factors of vision problems, more tests are needed. Some of these risk factors include:
• Premature birth (earlier than 40 weeks)
• Developmental Delay
• Family history of eye disease
• Previous eye injury
Children who use glasses or contact lenses often need yearly checkups so that their prescriptions, if necessary, could be corrected.
Adults: In general, based on visual changes and physical health, adults should have a complete eye examination every 2 to 3 years. More examinations are recommended for those who suffer from Diabetes, high blood pressure and so on, since these diseases can affect their vision.
It is better that people aged 40 and above have their eye examination every 1 to 2 years, because as one gets older, age-related eye conditions such as Presbyopia, cataracts and macular degeneration are more likely to happen.