Do you go regularly, or do you only go if you start experiencing issues?

It’s important to visit your optometrist’s office regularly.  Eye exams can catch all kinds of health problems early, with a better chance of more effective treatment.  They also can help catch diseases like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, even cancer.  One in five Americans say that an eye doctor has detected a non-eye related health issue for them.

At what age should you start going to see the optometrist?

Examinations can begin under the age of three for more common issues, such as lazy or crossed eyes.  After the age of 3, a more in-depth eye exam can be performed.  School-aged children and teenagers should have their eyes checked every one to two years or base their frequency on the doctor’s recommendation.

A relatively healthy adult with no obvious eye issues only needs their eyes to be checked every 5 to 10 years.  If you wear glasses or corrective contact lenses, have a disease that puts your eyesight at risk, take any medications that cause side effects to the eyes, or have a family history of eye disease, you should be having them checked more often than normal.

What kind of eye doctor should you see?

Different kinds of eye specialists include:
Optician – fills prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses
Optometrist – provides services for full eye exams, prescribe lenses, and diagnosing diseases. 
Ophthalmologist – provides services that optometrists do, but also can perform eye surgery and diagnose more complex eye diseases.

Come prepared

If you already wear eyeglasses or contacts, be sure to bring them with you to your exam.
Bring sunglasses if you suspect your eyes will be dilated, and have someone drive you to and from your exam. Be prepared to answer questions about your eye history – any problems you are having presently or any past issues.

Types of exams

Your doctor will give you one or more different types of exams.  The first one is the eye muscle test – your doctor will watch your eye movement as they move an object around in front of you. They look for any weakness or lagging in the eyes.
The visual acuity test will determine the clarity of your vision.  You will be instructed to read a chart in front of you so the doctor can see how easy it is for you to read small text.
The refraction assessment tests for any refractive errors.  This is when the light does not focus on the back of your eye, you have refractive error. 
There are more tests that assess for more complex issues, such as the confrontation exam, manual testing or automated perimetry. 
Do you have difficulty distinguishing colors?  You may be colorblind.  Doctors can also identify this issue using images made of multicolored dots.  If you  can read the letters or numbers in this image, your color detection is likely to not be deficient.

Don’t wait!

There are many different types of eye diseases, but there are also many different kinds of tests to identify these diseases.  Early detection is the key.