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Caring for Your Eyes at Ages 40-54 by Kristen Peterson, M.D.

March 12, 2020

Dr. Peterson is a comprehensive ophthalmologist, cataract specialist, and dry eye specialist with the Marietta Eye Clinic.

At each stage of your life, you need different types and frequency of eye examinations and care. In many cases, vision that is lost cannot be recovered, so the best option is to catch and treat eye disease before it affects your vision. Your eyes will reward you with a lifetime of excellent sight if you provide them the care they need.

Baseline Exams

It’s a good idea to get a baseline exam once you’ve turned 40. Around this age, early signs of eye disease and changes in vision start to occur. Even if you don’t notice any vision problems, an ophthalmologist can look at the back of your eye to check for signs of damage that could later result in vision loss. Based on the results of your exam and your overall health, you ophthalmologist can give you a recommended exam schedule personalized to your needs.

How Often Most People Ages 40-54 Need Eye Exams

If you are between the ages of 40 to 54, you do not have any symptoms of eye disease, and you are seeing clearly, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the doctors at the Marietta Eye Clinic recommend that you have a comprehensive eye examination every 2 to 4 years at minimum. Comprehensive eye examinations are more than checking your prescription for glasses and contacts. Optometrists and ophthalmologists conduct comprehensive eye examinations to check for damage from health conditions such as diabetes and to check specifically for eye diseases which can lead to blindness such as glaucoma and cataracts.

When to Get Eye Exams More Often

Your health situation is unique to you, and so is your eye health. Eye exams help you and your ophthalmologist detect problems at their earliest stage possible, when they are the most treatable. Many symptoms of eye disease go unnoticed for years, and by the time symptoms present, irreversible damage can be done to your eyes. The guidelines above apply to individuals ages 40 to 54 who present no symptoms or disease risk factors. If you do experience symptoms or have risk factors for eye disease, you should consider having more frequent comprehensive eye exams.

One major risk factor for serious eye disease is diabetes. Any family history of major disease or eye disease is another reason to have more frequent eye exams. Here are some common reasons to increase the frequency of eye exams:

  • You wear glasses or contact lenses
  • You have a family history of eye disease such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, or cataracts
  • You have a chronic disease that puts you at greater risk of eye disease, such as diabetes or hypertension
  • You take medications that may have serious eye side effects such as prednisone or plaquenil

Routine eye exams have been proven to help combat eye disease, visual impairment, and total blindness. Keep in mind the guidance above and reach out to your local optometrist or ophthalmologist more frequently if you are at a higher risk of developing disease, if you have personal history of visual issues or disease, or if your family has a history of eye disease. It may save your vision.

More About Kristen Peterson, M.D.

Dr. Peterson is an ophthalmologist with the Marietta Eye Clinic who specializes in cataracts and dry eye. She serves the Kennestone, East Cobb, and Towne Lake offices. She received an undergraduate degree in biology from Emory University and a medical degree from the Emory University School of Medicine. She is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Read her full bio here.

References and Additional Resources

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. It describes itself as a “global community of 32,000 medical doctors who protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public.” Its website is a great resource to learn more about how to care for your eyes.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) describes itself as the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation’s health, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry (O.D.), optometric professionals, and optometry students. 

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