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. I didn’t know that I should be getting an eye exam every two years. I don’t think I’ve had one since I graduated high school. I’ll make sure to do that as soon as I can. How long does an eye exam usually take?

  2. Thanks for the fantastic read, I had no idea that there were actually recommended times you should visit your eye doctor based on your age, that’s a very helpful chart. It surprises me that someone my age would have to see the eye doctor every two years, but it makes sense that your eyesight start to deteriorate once you get up in years. I’ll have to start looking around for a new eye doctor for my wife and I since we just moved towns to be a little closer to our extended family.

  3. I am happy to have found this article about what one should know about going to the eye doctor. It is interesting that different eye doctors are available in order to meet the specific needs of each person. I did not know that optometrists were capable of testing sight and giving prescriptions. It would also be wise to pick someone with a local clinic to avoid an extensive commute each time an eye appointment is made.

  4. I didn’t realize that babies need to see an eye doctor at six months old. My husband and I will be first time parents really soon, so it is nice to know of the things we need to do to care for our child! That way we can make sure she will be healthy and happy all the time!

  5. Lillian Schaeffer November 7, 2016 at 2:59 pm · Reply

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that people between nineteen and forty should visit an eye doctor every two years. I’m twenty now, and because I’ve never had vision problems, I’ve never visited an optometrist before. I didn’t realize that doing so anyway is recommended, but I’ll definitely look into setting up an appointment, and I’ll be sure to go every two years from now on. Thanks for the great post!

  6. I didn’t know there were more than just optometrists to check the health of your eyes. I think for basic needs and check ups this is a great way to go. I would also find someone that is good with kids if you have a family.

  7. I like how you point out that in addition to recommended appointments, some doctor say that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and wearing sunglasses when necessary can help maintain good eye health. I try to go to the eye doctor at least once a year. I’ve found that when I do this, I am more aware of my eye health and my doctor makes recommendations of what I can do in my life to keep up my eye health like you mentioned.

  8. Thanks for bringing to my attention that children should receive their first eye exam at six months old. My son just reached seven months, and I had no idea that an eye exam was recommended for him! I want to make sure his eyes are healthy, so maybe it would be a good idea to have them examined.

  9. I thought the chart about when to see an eye doctor based on your age was really interesting. I’ve heard elsewhere that certain diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure can influence the frequency of eye exams as well. I’ve heard it’s because these diseases can affect eyesight so it’s important that your eye doctor monitor them carefully.

  10. It is interesting to learn that vision can change drastically throughout a person’s life. I did not know that it could effect development at a young age and performance at school and work later on. My sister took her daughter to get her eyes checked and found she needed glasses. As soon as her lenses were acquired, her performance at school sky rocketed.

  11. I want to make sure that my eyes are taken care of. It makes sense that going to the eye doctor would be the best way to accomplish that! It seems like I should be doing that once every two years. I’ll see if I can get an appointment as soon as possible.

  12. Dr. Alex G. Wilson May 31, 2017 at 12:21 am · Reply

    Great information. Eye doctor check-up is indeed important at all stages of a person’s life especially during the learning years. In fact, it is best to put this concern on the back to school checklist. Thanks.

  13. I really liked how you described how an optometrist can test sight and provide prescriptions and that ophthalmologists are qualified to perform surgical procedures. I always wondered if there was a difference between the two and if I should consider looking for one or the other. I guess that the only real difference is that an eye doctor is more generic and an ophthalmologist is more specialized and can perform surgery.

  14. I like how you have how many times you should see an optometrist in a nice little chart by age. For example, I’m in the 19–40 years old category, so I can see that I should go at least every two years unless I have vision problems. I was wondering when I should find vision services because I can’t actually remember when I last went to the eye doctor. I’ll have to find one near me to go to and start a regular schedule.

  15. I appreciate you providing a chart that provides the age bracket and the recommendation provided by the AOA when you need to have your eyes checked. I used to go to a doctor only when I feel my vision is getting blurred. After reading this post, now I know that I need to get my eyes checked every two years at least. I will certainly keep this in mind and suggest to my friends and family to regularly visit an eye doctor as well. Thanks.

  16. Persephone de Vito December 1, 2017 at 7:35 pm · Reply

    This article was quite informative. I especially liked that part where you quoted that “patients with little to no history of eye problems should see an optometrist whereas patients with more complex problems are advised to see an ophthalmologist.” My teenage sister has been complaining that her vision is blurring, and she sometimes finds it really difficult seeing if a place is bright. Since this is the first time this happened, it might be a good idea to bring her to an optometrist. Thank you for the info.

  17. Sharon Wilson-Smith December 12, 2017 at 5:07 pm · Reply

    It’s great that you talked about the importance of visiting an eye doctor regularly because vision can drastically change throughout a person’s life that can affect your quality of life and work later on. My son woke up today and complained about the itchiness of his eyes and blurriness of his vision. I’ve been noticing that he has been staying late at night to watch videos, and I’m afraid that throughout the weeks that he has been doing it, his visions have been affected. I will make sure to visit an optometrist for a proper checkup and treatment.

  18. I didn’t realize that infants as young as 6 months old are recommended to get eye exams! This is really good to know as I’m about to have my first baby. I’ll definitely have to start looking around for a good optometrist in my area so that I’ll be prepared when my little girl reaches six months old.

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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.