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 affect 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 at 6 months old.
3 years of age A child should receive another full examination at the age of 3. 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. Rachel Lannister February 22, 2017 at 3:47 pm · Reply

    In the article you wrote that people of my age should be seeing an eye doctor at least once every two years, and if you have a family history of vision issues maybe even more. My father has vision issues, so perhaps I should be seeing an eye doctor. I’ll have to find a good eye doctor, to ensure that my eyes are healthy and I get a proper prescription if necessary. Thanks for the read.

  2. I found your comment on how you want to take your child in for an eye exam by the age of 6 months. It would seem that getting an eye exam this early in life would be helpful in determining if they need corrective lenses. I recently had a baby girl so I’ll have to remember to take her for an eye exam at six months.

  3. I have been having trouble with my vision for years. It is something that has slowly gotten worse, so I am thinking of having LASIK. I did not realize that this would require going to an ophthalmologist, but that is great to know. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Leviticus Bennett April 7, 2017 at 3:40 pm · Reply

    It’s good to know that I should receive my eye exam at least every two years. Thanks for all the tips for picking the best eye doctor too. I think it’s always important to find out if they accept your insurance.

  5. Lillian Schaeffer April 12, 2017 at 1:55 pm · Reply

    Thanks for bringing to my attention that people between nineteen and forty should have their eyes examined at least every two years. I’m in my twenties, and even though I have glasses, I haven’t been to an eye doctor for several years. Maybe it would be a good idea to make an appointment soon and to visit more regularly in the future so they can catch any potential problems.

  6. I want to make sure that I get my eyes taken care of. It makes sense that I would want to see an eye doctor for that! I should go in for an eye exam to see if I need a new prescription for my glasses.

  7. I like how you say that optometrists are relied on by 2/3 of the eye patients in the US. Because of this, if you have a general eye problem it would probably be smart to start by seeing an optometrist. My son needs his eyes checked so we’ll have to take him to an optometrist first.

  8. Harper Campbell July 5, 2017 at 11:36 am · Reply

    My eyes haven’t been working like they used to, and it might be time for me to go see an eye doctor. It’s good to know that when it comes to an optometrist, that they can find test my sight and provide prescription for lenses. I think it will be nice to be able to go to find one that will be able to treat whatever is wrong, and know what to do right away.

  9. Dennis Sanchez July 10, 2017 at 12:40 pm · Reply

    You wrote that the average adult should be seeing an eye doctor once every few years and younger kids should see them a bit more frequently. I’ve been thinking about my family’s health and I was wondering if I should take them to see an eye specialist. I’ll definitely have to find an eye doctor, so that I can take my kids in and make sure they have the proper eye wear they need.

  10. I appreciate how you say that you would want to see an eye doctor as soon as possible when experiencing any adverse eye problems. It would make sense to find someone who is experienced and qualified to give you an eye exam. My husband has been complaining that his eyes have been itching a lot, so maybe we’ll have to find someone who can check out his eyes.

  11. I like how you posted the chart giving the recommended amount of times that you should go see an eye doctor. Like you said, vision can change a lot over the course of a lifetime, this chart helps me give an indication of how often I should see my eye doctor. I have had bad vision for years and there is a history of bad vision in my family. Having a good eye doctor who is helpful and friendly has made going to the doctor’s a good experience.

  12. I agree that you would want to consider finding an optometrist for basic vision needs. It would be good to find someone who is experienced and qualified for the specific things you need. My nephew needs to see an eye doctor, so he’ll have to find one that is experienced in children’s eye care.

  13. Thanks for sharing this. It’s nice that you provided a chart consisting of the age group and the doctor’s recommendation if they are going for an eye check-up. I will certainly take heed of your advice and meet with my eye-doctor soon.

  14. Thank you for the post about what you should know about going to the eye doctor. I like that you’ve put a small sort of guide on when you should see the eye doctor. I guess I should be going at least once every two years. I’ll also take your advice to ask my doctor if I should be checking in more than that.

  15. Callum Palmer May 2, 2018 at 5:39 pm · Reply

    This was a fantastic read and I really like that you included a chart detailing how often people should see an eye doctor. After all, people’s eyes do tend to deteriorate as they grow older. Since that is a serious health issue you’ll want to visit the eye doctor more often as you get older.

  16. Easton Memmott August 1, 2018 at 2:21 pm · Reply

    I loved that you highlighted the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist. My mother has developed cataracts in her late years so we have been researching which kind of an eye care specialist she would need. I will be sure to let her know that she will need an ophthalmologist.

  17. My mom has cataracts, and I want to help her find the right doctor to treat them. I appreciate that you mentioned that an ophthalmologist is the one who will perform surgical procedures. I will be sure to talk to my mom about that, so we could choose the right type of doctor.

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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.