Posted May 26, 2015
An eye exam could save your life. Most people think an exam is just a vision checkup, but eye doctors can detect many signs of medical problems during the tests. Here are important facts to know:
- Establishes a health baseline – Scheduling eye exams as directed by your doctor will help develop a baseline of your eye tissues, so changes can be detected easily. Research demonstrates that people with vision insurance are more likely to schedule regular exams. Eye doctors recommend getting a baseline comprehensive eye exam before or at age 40.
- Identifies potential health problems – The eye is the only part of the body where doctors can get a clear view of blood vessels, nerves and connecting tissue, reports the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The eyes have a unique communication role with other parts of the body because they reflect medical problems located elsewhere. Even a miniscule dot in a blood vessel may be detected during an exam, which could be a sign of cancer or a mass that could lead to stroke. Other potential medical problems eye doctors can detect include diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, brain bleed, stroke, head trauma or eye diseases, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration.
- Timing for regular exams – The American Optometric Association has developed guidelines for the frequency of eye exams. (It’s important to note that family history or previous vision and medical issues may require adults and their dependents to have a comprehensive eye exam more often.) Comprehensive exams should be scheduled at:
- Age 6 months
- Age 3
- Age 5 or 6 – before entering first grade and every two years thereafter
- Age 18 to 60 – every two years
- Age 61 and older – every year
Learn more about what happens during an eye exam.