When was the last time you had a regular eye check-up? Ideally, we’re advised to have an eye test at least once every two years but most people have them less frequently. By putting off your eye test, you are putting your eyesight at risk.
Optometrists recommend that adults with healthy eyes between 20-39 years should see their eye doctor every 2-3 years. Those between the ages of 40-64 should make an appointment at least once every 2years while adults 65 years or older should see their doctors annually. Children need to have their first eye check-up when they’re 6-9months old. Their second visit should be when they’re between the ages of 2-5years. Those between 6-19 years should see the eye doctor at least once every year.
What’s the difference between an optometrist, an ophthalmologist, and an optician?
Optometrists are eye doctors who diagnose and treat eye conditions. They also perform eye tests and prescribe various vision aids. On the other hand, ophthalmologists are medical doctors who can do all the tasks of an optometrist and on top of that perform eye surgery. Most optometrists are not trained to perform eye surgery.
Opticians are not eye doctors. They’re eye care professionals whose main tasks include fitting, adjusting, repairing, and teaching patients how to take care of their glasses/contact lenses.
10 signs that you should see an eye doctor
At some point in our lives, we have different eye problems that vary in severity depending on our age, risk factors, and whether or not we wear glasses/contacts. If you have any of these eye-related problems its recommended that you see your eye doctor more frequently:
- Foreign object in the eyes
If something like broken glass, dirt, or chemicals gets into your eyes, you should immediately see an eye doctor. In the case of chemicals, first, wash your eye with clean cool water for the first 15 minutes. This helps flush out the chemicals before they cause lots of damage to the eye.
Don’t rub your eyes when you have an object stuck in there. This will only move it around and cause further damage to your eye.
- Frequent headaches
These are an indication that your vision is changing over time, causing your eyes to strain. If you’re experiencing abnormal headaches, see a doctor who’ll determine their cause and update your prescription if necessary.
If you’re squinting a lot, that means that your eyesight is deteriorating. This happens a lot when you’re reading or watching television.
- Eye infection, fatigue, or pain
These three don’t automatically mean that your eyesight is deteriorating. If you’re experiencing pain and suspect that you have an eye infection, schedule an appointment with your optometrist. Do the same when your eyes feel fatigued that isn’t attributed to lack of sleep several days in a row.
Eye infections cause the eyes to become swollen, red, itchy, and painful. They may also have a discharge. Eye pain is often an indication that you could be having serious health problems.
- Blurry vision, double vision, or trouble focusing
If your vision becomes blurry, you start seeing doubles (diplopia), or if you have trouble focusing, chances are that your eyesight is not as good as it once was. If your blurry vision comes and goes, or is limited to one eye, you should schedule a regular exam with your doctor as soon as possible. However, if your vision is getting blurry over time, there’s probably no need to panic. It simply means that your eyes are changing and you should get your prescription changed.
If you start seeing tiny shadows this could be a symptom of more urgent problems such as a tear, hole, or full retinal detachment in the eye. Double vision is caused by abnormalities in the cornea, lens, retina, nerves, or brain, and happens when our eyes are unable to coordinate properly.
- Flashes, floaters, and spots
These are often caused by bits of protein and other tissues that become embedded in the vitreous. This is a clear gel-like material that fills our eyes. As we grow older, the vitreous gets more fluid, making the bits of protein more noticeable.
However, sometimes these conditions are an indication of a very serious condition such as a detached retina. A few floaters, flashes, and spots here and there are no cause for alarm. But if you experience they’re persistent then you should seek medical attention.
Like our cars need regular servicing every once in a while, our eyes also need regular eye exams. Why take chances with your eyesight? If you haven’t had an eye exam in the recent past and are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms you ought to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
By having regular exams, especially shortly after you experience any of the above-mentioned signs, you’re making sure that you’ll keep seeing the beauty of the world around you for as long as possible.