Our experienced LASIK and cataract surgeon Dr. Michael Manning recently sat down with us to answer common questions regarding routine eye care. He explains how regular eye exams are an important part of maintaining good eye health. Depending on your age and whether you have other medical conditions, Dr. Manning offers detailed information, as to how you should care for your eyes and how often you should see an eye professional. Keep reading to see his answers.
Q: How often should patients schedule an eye exam?
Dr. Manning: Any time eye symptoms, visual changes, or injury are involved, an eye exam is recommended. Otherwise, the guidelines are as follows:
Patients with no risk factors for eye disease or eye problems who are less than 55 years of age should consider an eye exam every 2 to 4 years. From 55 to 64, this changes to every 1 to 3 years. At 65 years and up, even if there are no symptoms, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends an exam every 1 to 2 years.
Q: How often should people with certain medical conditions schedule check-ups?
DM: Risk factors play an important role in the frequency of eye exams. For example, diabetic patients should have examinations at least once per year, more often if they have active diabetic eye disease. Patients with glaucoma should have examinations 2 to 3 times per year or more. Patients with macular degeneration should have examinations at least once per year, but this may be much more frequently with active disease such as wet-type macular degeneration. Those who take Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) should have an eye examination every 6 months. If you have an eye disease, a family history of eye disease or a risk factor for developing one, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, then it is important to get regular annual eye exams.
Q: What’s the breakdown of different concerns according to age?
DM: From birth and into childhood, most eye concerns relate to screening for refractive errors that can be treated with eyeglasses to promote healthy eye development, addressing eye alignment issues such as lazy eye (amblyopia), eye muscle imbalances, and screening for tumors of the eye.
In your teens, twenties, and thirties, most concerns relate to refractive errors that may be correctable with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. The most common concern in your forties is a problem known as presbyopia that causes progressive difficulties with near vision activities such as reading. In your fifties and beyond, it becomes ever more important to be checked regularly for common problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, among others.
Q: What can patients do at home or away from the office to protect their eyes on a regular basis – what good eye health habits should they develop?
DM: Patients should take contact lenses out at night as overnight wear increases the risk of infection. Eye protection is important when playing sports or engaging in any activity where you may be at risk of flying debris (such as mowing the lawn or hammering nails, for example). Sunglasses are important for protecting one’s eyes from harmful ultraviolet light in the same way that we protect our skin by using sunscreen.
If you have any questions regarding eye health, or would like to schedule an eye exam, please contact our practice today. By taking small steps like going to routine checkups, you can help preserve your eyesight for a clear future.