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How Often Should You Have an Eye Exam?

author image Tracy Tabb
Based in St. Louis, Tracy Tabb has covered health care topics for more than eight years.Tabb was awarded fellowship in the Association of Health Care Journalists in both 2012 and 2013. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri. Tabb developed her interest in health care while exploring her grandfather's optometric practice as a child.
How Often Should You Have an Eye Exam?
Spectacles for eye exam Photo Credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Everyone knows you should get an annual physical checkup and a twice-yearly dental cleaning, but when it comes to the frequency of eye exams, it’s not as simple. Contact lens wear, visual changes, and risk factors for diseases of the eye indicate the need for more frequent comprehensive eye exams, according to eye experts.

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Healthy Adults

Eye class case
Eye class case Photo Credit: Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Eye health is an important part of overall health. A comprehensive eye exam helps determine the function and health of the eyes and can even detect systemic conditions before you are aware of symptoms. Early detection of any problems is important for treatment and even preventing loss of vision. Optometrists recommend that healthy adults ages 18 to 60 get eye exams every other year if they do not wear contact lenses and have no factors for health and vision problems. On the other hand, current guidelines from the American Academy of Ophthalmology call for a baseline comprehensive examination at age 40 in most healthy adults.

Risk Factors for Ocular Disease

Composition of medications for diseases
Composition of medications for diseases Photo Credit: zaretskaya/iStock/Getty Images

More than 50 percent of the adult population requires vision correction, according to the American Optometric Association. By about age 52, almost everyone is affected by decreasing ability to focus. Millions more have health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, that elevate risks for eye disease and vision problems. People with chronic health problems or who are 61 and older should receive annual or more frequent exams as recommended by an eye doctor. Seek immediate care from an ophthalmologist if you notice any changes in your eyes, including sudden blurriness, loss of vision or flashes or if you have suffered an eye injury or have eye pain. These could be signs of more serious problems.

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