How Often Should You Have Your Eyes Checked?

unrecognizable ophthalmologist checking eyesight of woman on vision screener
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on

In the U.S., 93 million people are at risk of vision loss, yet only half that number visited an eye doctor in the past year.

Which half are you in? Have you been to an eye doctor in the past 12 months? If so, bravo! If not, what are you waiting for?

Your eyes are important, and you need to take care of them. Vision does decline naturally with age, but there is so much you can do to keep your eyes in great shape.

Even if you think your vision is 20/20, you can still benefit from having your eyes checked. Read on to find out more about the value of an eye check-up.

Your Eye Health

Your eyes work hard for you! They help you read, drive, watch TV, and do countless other daily tasks. You’ll want to make sure nothing happens to them.

Various conditions can affect your vision in a big way if they’re not caught early. These include glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

A regular eye exam can catch these conditions—and more. An eye doctor may notice signs of diseases with symptoms that affect the eyes, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. That’s a lot of bang for your buck (or your insurance bucks)!

Getting Your Eyes Checked

So, what can you expect at an eye exam? You won’t just be reading an eye chart—though you will likely have to read an eye chart. There’s more an eye doctor will do when you visit.

First, the doctor will ask you general questions about your health and if you’ve noticed any recent changes in your vision (good or bad).

Your doctor will check your eyes in several ways. They will complete an external eye test, checking how your eyes react to light, work together, and how well your eyes are aligned. The reaction of your pupils to light will also be noted.

Next comes the eye chart. You’ll be asked to read the chart with each eye. If it looks like you may need glasses or contacts, the doctor will perform a refraction test to find your prescription. In this test, the doctor will ask you to choose between lenses to get your vision as sharp as possible.

Finally, there are some tests to find out more about how your eyes are doing.

After numbing your eyes, the doctor may use a tonometer to measure the pressure of your eyes. Or you may sit at a machine that sends a puff of air into each eye to measure that pressure.

A photo may be taken of your eyes to see how all the parts look, or the doctor may dilate your eyes to take a closer look with an ophthalmoscope.

The length of your visit and the number of tests done may vary depending on what the doctor finds during the exam.

When to Visit Your Eye Doctor

A baby should have its first visit between 6 and 12 months, and a toddler (aged 3 – 5) should have at least one exam, more if your pediatrician detects a problem. School-age children should have a yearly eye exam with a family eye care professional.

An adult with no risk factors should visit the eye doctor at least once every two years.

If you have any risk factors, you should visit the eye doctor at least once a year. Some of these risks include:

  • family history of eye disease
  • prescription glasses/contacts
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • previous eye injury/surgery
  • taking prescriptions with eye side effects

Schedule an Exam

If it’s been a while since you’ve had your eyes checked, there’s no time like the present. You know what to expect when you go. And who knows? You may get the chance to pick out some cool frames to change up your look. Get on the phone and call your local eye doctor today.

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