Unlike the dentist, it’s not necessary to see the eye doctor every 6 months. A comprehensive eye exam every couple of years is enough to ensure that your eyes stay healthy and your vision stays sharp. You will need more frequent eye exams if you have certain medical conditions, such as glaucoma or diabetes. You will also need to visit the optometrist yearly if you have a prescription.
However, there are some signs and symptoms that indicate a need to see an eye specialist right away. You only have one set of eyes, and some damage is irreparable. If you notice any one of the five signs, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor immediately.
1. Problems focusing, or sudden blurry vision.
If you’re having trouble focusing, especially if it’s in one eye, see your ophthalmologist to have your vision tested. It’s possible that your prescription has changed or that you have presbyopia, which happens once you turn 40 years old. It’s also possible that something else is going on, so it’s important to rule out all possibilities.
2. Sudden disturbances in vision.
Floaters, flashes of light or obstructions in your vision all warrant an immediate trip to your eye specialist. If you can’t get into see your physician, go to the emergency room instead. The sudden onset of these disturbances could indicate a retinal detachment, retinal tear or retinal hole. By seeing the doctor in the first 24 hours, you minimize the risk of vision loss.
3. Eye pain, eye strain or headaches.
Infrequent eye pain, strain or headaches aren’t a cause for concern, but recurring discomfort is. It’s possible that you could have an eye infection or a change in vision. By having your eyes checked, you rule out these possibilities and get the underlying cause of your discomfort treated.
4. Sudden sensitivity to light.
If you notice that your eyes are highly sensitive to light, it’s recommended that you pay a visit to your eye specialist. A sudden sensitivity can indicate eye inflammation or irritation, which may be a precursor to eye disease. In the meantime, make sure you are gentle on your eyes by wearing the appropriate sunglasses.
5. Dry, red, itchy eyes.
Eyes that are dry and red may mean dry eye syndrome, which can be tested and treated. It’s also possible that allergies are to blame. Your ophthalmologist may recommend taking an antihistamine, but it’s also possible that you may benefit from eye drops that are more localized. Plus, the less rubbing you do, the less chance of infection there is.
Eye exams are an important part of staying healthy. They can even pick up things that a general physical exam can’t. If you notice any of the above signs, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor right away. You’ll be glad you did.