Why Every Adult Should Have an Annual Eye Exam, Even Those Who Have Perfect Vision

Here at KLM Eye MDs in Brooklyn, New York, we’ve been helping our patients maintain strong vision and optimal ocular health f

If you’ve never made time for an eye exam because your vision seems as sharp as ever, you’re in good company — nearly one in two adults in the United States hasn’t had a comprehensive eye exam in the past two years.  

Having routine eye exams is the only way to detect common eye diseases in their earliest stages before they cause symptoms or premature vision loss. It’s also an excellent way to uncover certain health conditions before you suspect you may have a problem. Here are some other good reasons to schedule your next eye exam before another year goes by.

Vision changes aren’t always obvious

When you think about having your eyes checked, chances are you picture yourself in front of a conventional eye chart, identifying progressively smaller letters, line-by-line. But while reading an eye chart is great for evaluating how well you see at a distance (visual acuity), it’s just one part of a comprehensive vision screening. 

Refraction testing, which analyzes the focusing power of your eyes, is what helps determine if you have astigmatism (blurred vision) or any degree of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or presbyopia (poor close-up vision). 

To establish your prescription, if necessary, you peer through a series of different corrective lenses to find the one that provides the clearest possible view. Many people who don’t believe they require corrective lenses — or who think their current prescription is still accurate — are surprised by just how crisp and clear the world appears when they’re looking through the right lens for their eyes.   

Many eye diseases have no early signs or symptoms

Unlike diabetes, arthritis, and other common chronic illnesses, most serious eye diseases develop without symptoms and advance slowly. Chronic eye conditions can be so insidious that many people don’t know they have one until they’ve already experienced significant vision loss. 

You can avoid this all-too-familiar scenario by having routine eye exams. And because your risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration increases as you age, having regular eye exams as recommended becomes increasingly important with each passing year.    

Having regular eye exams helps establish your baseline ocular health history so your doctor can spot potential problems more easily. And diagnosing eye disease early on, before it can cause significant damage, is one of the best ways to protect your vision and prevent blindness as you age. 

Digital eye strain is a real problem 

If you’re anything like the average adult, you spend a substantial amount of time looking at screens. But whether you’re stuck on a computer all day, glued to your smartphone all evening, or can’t sit in front of the television without binge-watching your favorite shows, your intense screen habits can have a major impact on your eyes. 

Watching screens for hours a day trains your eyes to blink less often than they normally would, and eyes that don’t blink normally are more likely to become red, dry, and itchy until they feel irritated, strained, or blurry virtually all the time.  

Having regular eye exams is a great way to find out if your screen habits are causing significant eye strain, so you can adjust your routine and give your eyes a much-needed break. In some cases, chronic digital eye strain can give rise to other conditions that require treatment, such as dry eye syndrome. 

Your eyes can indicate other health problems

A wide range of major systemic diseases have eye involvement as part of the disease course. This means your eyes may reveal subtle signs of an underlying illness before you experience any other noticeable symptoms. 

In the vast majority of cases, these early ocular signs of systemic disease are so subtle, they’re only noticed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist during a comprehensive eye exam.

Those chronically red eyes that you thought were due to allergies or even dry eye syndrome may actually be an indication of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or another autoimmune disease, particularly if you also sometimes experience double vision or eye pain.

The bottom line? Eye doctors are trained to spot the ocular signs of chronic disease, and having regular eye exams is another excellent preventive care strategy that can help you stay on top of your health. 

Eye exam guidelines

If you’re a healthy adult under the age of 65 with good vision and a low risk of ocular disease, you may only need to have a comprehensive eye exam every two years. If you’re over the age of 65, or if you have certain high-risk factors for eye disease like diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of eye disease, an annual eye exam is recommended. 

Here at KLM Eye MDs in Brooklyn, New York, we’ve been helping our patients maintain strong vision and optimal ocular health for over 60 years, and it all starts with regular eye exams. To learn more or schedule your next exam, call our Midwood office today or use the easy online tool to book an appointment any time. 

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