How Eye Exams Change as You Age

As you grow older, your vision changes. Even if you’ve always had healthy eyes, it’s possible to develop problems that make it difficult to see clearly. Because there are so many changes in the vision, eye exams change as well. As long as you go to the eye doctor on a regular basis, your eye specialist will provide you with a comprehensive eye exam tailored to your age.

Let’s look at how eye exams change throughout your lifespan and what you can expect through the years.

Children (5-18 years)

Routine eye exams are an important part of getting kids ready for school. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that children get an eye exam at 6 months, 3 years and 5 years. After this point, eye exams should be done every 2 years until the age of 18, providing there are no problems with vision.

At 6 months, the goal of an eye exam is to make sure the vision is developing normally. Infants should be able to see color and depth, as well as focus their eyesight. In preschoolers and older children, eye exams include reading LEA symbols and random dot stereopsis to see how the eyes work together as a team.

Adults (18-60 years)

Once you are into your adult years, eye exams change a bit. The AOA recommends that adults with healthy vision have eye exams every 2 years until the age of 60.

In general, you can expect the following tests to be done during a comprehensive eye evaluation.

Visual acuity. Determines sharpness and clarity of your eyesight.

Confrontation visual fields. Checks the basic field of vision, including peripheral vision.

Extraocular movements. Measures muscles that control eye movement.

Pupillary tests. Determines how the pupils respond to light.

Cover test. Measures how the eyes work together.

Retinoscopy. Measures refraction.

Refraction. Measures nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia.

Slit lamp exam. Examines front and back of eye.

Tonometry. Measures eye pressure.

In your 20s and 30s, your eye exams will include the tests above. In general, the eyes are healthy during these ages. In your 40s, the development of presbyopia requires reading glasses. If you are diabetic, eye problems such as glaucoma become more of a concern, too. From time to time, your eye doctor will also recommend dilating the eyes.

Seniors (61+ years)

Once you reach the age of 61, it’s recommended to have eye exams each year. Cataracts are common during these ages, but with proper care, they are usually easy to manage. Your pupils may also start to shrink, making it more difficult to see in low-light conditions. Peripheral vision is reduced, and color vision may decline. Luckily, seeing the doctor regularly will preserve the health of your eyes and the sharpness of your vision!