During an exam, each eye is examined for signs of serious eye issues such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and detached retinas, among other conditions. Receiving regular eye exams regardless of vision acuity can help detect serious eye problems at the earliest stage ─ when they are most treatable.
Recommended Eye Exam Frequency
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) suggests the following frequencies for adult eye exams based on age:
- 20s and 30s: every 5-10 years
- 40 to 54: every 2-4 years
- 55 to 64: every 1-3 years
- 65+: every 1-2 years
Individuals with the following conditions are exceptions to the prior recommendations:
- Exhibit serious vision trouble or eye discomfort
- Wear corrective lenses
- Have a family history of eye disease
- Have a chronic disease that increases the risk of eye disease
For children, the AAO recommends:
- Initial screening between 6 and 12 months of age
- Routine eye health and vision screenings throughout childhood to help detect any abnormalities as their eyes develop
- Visual screening and ocular alignment evaluations every 1-2 years for school-aged children
Eye Exams Can Help Identify Other Health Problems
A licensed doctor will use your eye evaluation to indicate your overall health. Close evaluation of the blood vessels in the eye can help detect major health problems, including:
- Diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is identified by blood vessels in the retina of the eyes leaking blood or yellow fluid.
- Hypertension. Tears or bends in blood vessels in the eye may identify high blood pressure.
- High cholesterol. A yellow tint or ring around the cornea may signify high cholesterol.
- Thyroid disease. Graves Disease, or bulging or protruding eyeballs, is a sign of thyroid problems.
- Autoimmune disorders. Eye inflammation can be a sign of an autoimmune disorder such as lupus.
- Cancer. Unusual eye structure can be a sign of ocular melanoma (eye cancer), and close observation of the eyelids can detect basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer).
- Tumors. Irregular shaped pupils or droopy eyelids could signify a neck tumor or an aneurism.
Regardless of how keen your eyesight is, scheduling regular eye exams according to the AAO’s recommendations is a great way to stay on top of your overall health.