What you should know about going to the eye doctor

What you should know about going to the eye doctor

Vision is a vital part of everyday life for people of all ages, but sometimes taking care of it drops to the bottom of the to-do list.

“It’s important to make and attend regular eye appointments with your doctor,” says Dr. Osvaldo Lopez, chief of the ophthalmology section at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Regular appointments can help detect problems early on and correct issues you may not notice yourself.”

When should you see an eye doctor?

Vision can change drastically throughout a person’s life and can effect development at a young age and performance at school and work later on.

Take a look at the chart below with recommendations from the American Optometric Association (AOA) to see if you might be due for a check-up.

Age Recommendation
6 months of age Babies should receive their first eye examination at 6 months old.
3 years of age A child should receive another full examination at the age of three. See a doctor sooner if you notice potential signs of vision problems or if recommended to do so by a doctor.
5 years of age A child should receive another full examination at the age of 5 unless recommended to do otherwise by a doctor.
6 – 18 years of age School-aged children should see an eye doctor every two years. More frequent visits may be necessary if any vision problems are found.
19 – 40 years of age Continue to receive an eye exam at least every two years. If you or your family members have a history of vision problems, ask your doctor if you should check in more often.
41 – 60 years of age Vision changes are common during this time. While the recommendation remains to see an eye doctor every two years, you should make an appointment sooner if you notice changes in your ability to see at close distances or experience blurred vision.
Over 60 years of age Annual eye examinations are recommended for people over 60 years of age, as you become more susceptible to eye diseases at this age.

In addition to the recommended appointments, Dr. Lopez says that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and wearing sunglasses when necessary can also help maintain good eye health. He also advises seeing an eye doctor as soon as possible if you’re experiencing blurry or double vision, itching, red eye or sensitivity to light, among other irritants.

Which type of eye doctor is right for you?

Two-thirds of all patients in the United States rely on doctors of optometry as their primary eye care providers, according to the AOA. However, some may choose to see an ophthalmologist based on their eye care needs.

Optometrists can test your sight and provide prescriptions for corrective lenses if necessary. They also work to detect eye abnormalities and treat conditions such as dry eyes and astigmatism.

Ophthalmologists are qualified to perform surgical procedures such as cataract surgery and LASIK surgery. They can also examine and treat all conditions of the eye, including administering vision tests and prescribing corrective lenses, according to The American Academy of Ophthalmology.

“Each patient requires a unique plan of care. A patient who has little to no history of vision problems may opt to see an optometrist, while patients with more complex cases may choose or be referred to an ophthalmologist,” says Dr. Lopez. “The most important thing is for patients to receive the care they need from the doctor who is right for them.”

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  1. How does one know which is the right doctor if one has more than one eye condition. I have seen four ophthalmologists and they each have a different opinion about what needs to be done. There is so much sub-specialization and it’s hard to know who to trust or which is the appropriate treatment. Very frustrating!

  2. That’s really good facts you clear about the facts about what you should know about going to the eye doctor. I think everyone should read this before taking any eye treatment .

  3. Jackie Oliver May 6, 2016 at 12:01 pm · Reply

    I had no idea that kids should go to the eye doctor at such a young age! My daughter is 6 now, and I’ve never taken her. After reading this though, I am realizing just how much I need to get that done, I’m very overdue. From here on out, I’ll be sure to go every 2 years.

  4. I didn’t realize that ophthalmologists are qualified to perform surgical procedures such as cataract surgery and LASIK surgery. I would imagine that since they can perform surgeries, they have more experience and qualifications than other eye doctors. My vision has been a little blurry lately, so I’ll have to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist to see if they find anything that is detrimental to my health and eyesight.

  5. I really like how you broke down what the different ages need for eye care. Honestly, I didn’t really know that it changed over time. I’m in the 19-40 years of age range, so it’s good to know that I only need to go every two years. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind, thank you so much for sharing.

  6. I didn’t know that I’m supposed to be having an eye exam once a year! I’ll have to start doing that. I wouldn’t want to find out that my vision is terrible!

  7. I like that you mentioned how regular exams can help spot problems early on that you may not notice. I know when I was little I had a hard time noticing my eyes change. Professionals can help you stay on top of your vision and correct it when necessary.

  8. Troy Blackburn March 2, 2017 at 1:24 pm · Reply

    That’s pretty neat that optometrists are able to both provide prescriptions for lenses and detect eye abnormalities. I’ve heard that optometrists are able to tell within just 5 minutes of examining your eyes, what type of lenses you could use to improve your vision. I’ll have to keep this great information in mind to make sure that I’m maintaining good eye health.

  9. My mom has terrible vision, so like you said, it may be a good idea for me to go more often. If I’m being honest, I’m not very good at going every two years, so I really do need to do better about that. Next time I go in, I’ll talk to the doctor about his recommendation for how often I should come in for a check up.

  10. I agree that you would probably want to start by seeing an optometrist if you have little history of eye troubles. It would seem that you would want to find someone who is properly experienced for your problem and who deals with it a lot. My brother is looking for someone to help give him an eye exam so an optometrist would probably be a good idea.

  11. It’s so true that our vision can change drastically throughout our lives. Seeing an optometrist every couple of years is such a good idea. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that I can’t see as well as I once could. It might be time to make an appointment with my local opometrist.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.