Atrium Health Navicent Ophthalmology Macon

Routine Eye Exams

Young woman getting an eye exam

Why Are Eye Exams Important?

Routine eye exams are necessary for maintaining your overall health. Most people have vision problems that they are not aware of. About 24.4 million Americans over age 40 suffer from cataracts. Another three million have glaucoma. By age 80, one in 10 U.S. adults will be diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration. Medical eye exams can help prevent these disorders and minimize their impact on your health. Vision problems are common and can go unnoticed for years. Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment.

The Eye Exam: Why it's Necessary

According to Jobson Research, over 61 percent of Americans need some sort of vision correction. About 12.2 million require glasses but do not use any. More than 48 percent of those with children under 12 have never taken them to an eye doctor. These numbers may seem shocking, but they reflect the truth.

Other studies indicate that about eight million Americans suffer from diabetic retinopathy. Dry eye syndrome, another common eye problem, affects over two million men and three million women over 50 years old. Visual impairment, blindness, myopia, and astigmatism are a major concern too. In general, these conditions have no symptoms in the first few years. For this reason, it is important to have your eyes examined regularly even if you're not experiencing any vision problems.

During a routine exam, the doctor will check depth perception, visual acuity, eye movement, and eye alignment. If he detects any problems, further tests may be needed. Regular eye exams can also help spot other conditions, such as type II diabetes or hypertension.

Early diagnosis is essential for preventing some common eye diseases that may cause blindness, including glaucoma and cataracts. Vision care can change lives. Yet, only half of the estimated 61 million Americans at high risk for vision loss have had their eyes tested over the past year.

Health experts recommend annual eye exams. Do not wait until you experience eye problems to see a doctor. A routine exam could prevent you from losing your sight. Even those with naturally good vision should have their eyes tested at least once every two years. Be aware that vision screenings are not the same as a complete exam.

Annual tests are particularly important for seniors, children, people with diabetes, and those with a family history of glaucoma. Eye exams will also ensure that eyeglass prescriptions are current. These medical tests are essential for children because their eyesight can go through major changes in as little as a year.

Signs You Might Need an Eye Exam

Some people need eye exams more frequently than others do. Consult your doctor as soon as possible if you suffer from diabetes, eye pain, redness of the eye, decreased vision, or double vision. The same goes for those who are seeing flashes of light, circles around lights, spots, or floaters. Eye exams are also recommended if:

  • you notice any changes in your vision
  • you squint or close one eye to read books and newspapers
  • you have difficulty seeing traffic signs in the dark
  • your eyes are itchy, red, or dry
  • you have a family history of glaucoma or diabetes
  • you experience sensitivity to light

A pink discoloration of the whites of your eyes, itchiness, discharge, and swelling of the eyelids are common signs of an eye infection. If you notice these symptoms, it is time for an eye exam. You should also see a doctor in case of ongoing eye pain or fatigue, frequent squinting, migraines, difficulty concentrating, and frequent migraines.

Medical eye exams are recommended for the diagnosis or treatment of eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. An ophthalmologist performs these tests and the doctor will prescribe adequate treatment. A simple eye exam can detect more than vision problems. It is actually an effective tool for identifying serious diseases, such as cancer or diabetes. For example, skin cancer causes changes in the eyelid appearance. If the blood vessels appear bent or leaking, you might be suffering from high blood pressure. Dry eyes are often a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. These symptoms can be detected during a routine eye exam.

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you need to have your eyes tested annually. This will ensure that your prescription is up-to-date. The doctor will also check for possible complications related to wearing contact lenses, assess the curvature of the cornea, and examine the blood vessels in the back of your eyes.

Regardless of your age or health condition, routine exams are vital for preserving your vision for life.