Important Times to Schedule an Eye Exam by Brittany McNeely, O.D.

April 30, 2020

Dr. McNeely is a primary care optometrist with the Marietta Eye Clinic who specializes in ocular disease and provides ocular surgery co-management.

Vision is fundamental to quality of life. Unfortunately, most people don’t have eye exams as often as they should, putting their ocular health at risk. Many vision problems and ocular diseases progress slowly. Because they progress so gradually, changes may be difficult to notice before they become serious problems. To keep you and your loved ones’ vision crisp and clear, make sure you schedule eye exams when they are most important and regularly thereafter.

Recommendations for Infants and Children

The early years of a child’s life are important to their growth and development. Much of what children learn in their early years depends on their vision. Impaired vision in children can cause neurological and physical developmental problems. Visual development occurs throughout school age. If not properly treated in childhood, disorders will often impact a child for the rest of their life. Children as young as 6 months can undergo comprehensive eye exams. A child’s eyes should be examined at least once before they start kindergarten. Problems treated early often yield better outcomes. Treating vision problems early gives children every advantage as they navigate their early education and development.

Recommendations for Adults

Too much time on a computer or handheld device, dry eyes, allergies, and other problems are common in young adults. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can address all of these problems.

Around age 40, most adults begin to experience presbyopia, the inability to focus up close. Glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration become more prevalent after age 45. Upon reaching age 40, a baseline eye exam is recommended to offer eye doctors a point of comparison as your eyes continue to change with age. Your eye doctor will recommend how often you should schedule eye exams based on the findings of this important foundational exam. After a baseline exam, an ophthalmologist or optometrist can diagnose not only a need for glasses but also eye diseases that may not have presented symptoms yet. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people over age 40 have comprehensive eye exams every 2 to 4 years.

Adults with an existing eye disease or with a family history of eye diseases should follow their eye doctor’s prescribed examination guidelines strictly to protect their vision. Additional health conditions, especially diabetes and high blood pressure, come with increased risks to ocular health.

Recommendations for Seniors

Vision problems and eye disease become increasingly common with age. Catching potential problems is the best defense against permanent vision loss. Glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and cataracts are common eye diseases found in people over age 60. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends comprehensive eye exams for people over 65 every 1 to 2 years.

Eye Exams are for Everyone

No one is too young or too old for an eye exam. The best way to keep your eyes healthy is to catch obstacles to clear vision early, before too much damage occurs. Visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist, and follow their recommendations on how often to have eye exams to ensure your eyes stay healthy and your vision stays clear.

More About Brittany McNeely, O.D.

Dr. McNeely is a primary care optometrist with the Marietta Eye Clinic who specializes in ocular disease and provides ocular surgery co-management. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Georgia and received her doctor of optometry degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. When she graduated from the School of Optometry, she was named class valedictorian. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry as well as a member of the Georgia Optometric Association and the American Optometric Association. Read more about Dr. McNeely 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.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology: Eye Screening for Children

National Eye Institute: Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Data and Statistics

American Academy of Ophthalmology: Eye Exam and Vision Testing Basics

Centers for Disease Control: Common Eye Disorders

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