a precious gift. With healthy eyes we can see our surroundings, enjoy the
people around us, and even glimpse our own features in the mirror. Although
people with dimmed or no vision manage very well, being able to see clearly is
a wonderful asset in life.
The eye examination is a vital health check and should be part of everyone’s normal health regime. Here are 10 important reasons to have a regular examination:
1. You only have one pair of eyes. Once lost, your eyesight may never be replaced.
2. Unlike most of your body, your eyes do not usually hurt when there is something wrong.
3. The eye examination can pick up early signs of potentially blinding eye conditions, such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease or macular degeneration.
4. The earlier a problem is detected the greater the chance of successful treatment.
5. The eye examination can also detect a number of other underlying health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
6. An eye exam checks whether your eyesight needs correcting with glasses and determines the best form of correction for your vision.
7. Good vision means working and playing better and safer – in fact it means a better quality of life.
8. For young people, good eyesight is vital for learning. An eye examination will detect any problems in sight which may be affecting school performance.
9. Failing eyesight is often taken for granted as people get older. However, by having an eye examination and remedying problems in sight, older people can improve their quality of life significantly.
10. Poor eyesight is dangerous. Make sure that you are legal to drive and safe to operate your vehicle. (1)
A basic comprehensive eye exam should cover your personal and family health history, evaluate your vision at distance and near (e.g., determining that you have 20/400 vision), evaluate any nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia (e.g., determining the cause of your 20/400 vision and what prescription will correct it), and evaluate your eyes’ ability to work together. (2)
You might be surprised to find out there are no universal standards for how often you should have an exam. Below are the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations, as found on their website, www.mayoclinic.com..
Children 5 years and younger: Depending on your child’s willingness to cooperate, his or his first more comprehensive eye exam should be done between the ages of 3 and 5.
School-age children and adolescents: Have your child’s vision checked before he or she enters first grade. If your child has no symptoms of vision problems and you don’t have a family history of vision problems, have your child’s vision rechecked every two years. If your child does have vision problems or a family history of vision problems, have your child’s vision rechecked as advised by your eye doctor.
Adults: In general, if you’re healthy and have no symptoms of vision problems, you should have your vision checked once in your 20s and twice in your 30s. Between ages 40 and 65, have your vision checked every two to four years. A baseline exam at age 40 can be very helpful. After age 65, get your eyes checked every one to two years. If you wear glasses, have a family history of eye disease or have a chronic disease — such as diabetes — that puts you at greater risk of eye disease, you need to have your eyes checked more frequently. You might also need more frequent eye exams to check for retinal problems if you were born prematurely or to monitor your eyes for glaucoma if you’re of African-American heritage.
(1) 10 Reasons to Have a Regular Eye Exam, www.umeyecare.com/clinical_information.aspx
(3)Eye Exam: Why It’s Done, by Mayo Clinic Staff, www.mayoclinic.com/health/eye-exam/MY00245/DSECTION=why-its-done
Excerpted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Summer 2009. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.