Why Should You Have Regular Eye Exams?

Eye health: clear vision is just one piece of the puzzle

woman raising her eye glasses checking her vision

Eye health is a vital component of our overall health. Recent research published by the American Optometric Association shows that nearly all Americans agree with this statement, recognizing that eye health is on par with heart health. However, half of those surveyed also believe that if their vision is clear, they do not need an eye exam. This is a dangerous belief stemming largely from a lack of information about the more complex relationship between clear vision and eye health, and about the nature of eye disease.

This belief also reflects a common misunderstanding of eye exams. Comprehensive eye exams are not simply vision screenings, which is when your eye doctor asks you to identify letters and numbers through different lens strengths. In fact, clear vision is just one of the many elements of eye health and function your eye doctor looks for when they check your eyes, and vision screenings are just one of many screenings and tests that make up comprehensive eye exams. 

In addition to ensuring you receive necessary updates for glasses or contact lenses prescriptions, eye exams are your best defense against eye disease. An eye exam can also lead to the early diagnosis of other diseases including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. 

Read on to learn more about the importance of maintaining consistent, recurrent eye exam appointments.

The importance of regular eye exams

Myopia control San Diego

While clear eyesight is undeniably important, 20/20 vision does not necessarily equate to eye health. You may have an eye condition and still not experience any visual impairment or eye discomfort. Eye disease is quite common, and some eye diseases do not initially present with any symptoms. This means that without a regular eye exam, disease can go undetected for a long time. 

A routine eye exam is the best way to diagnose and treat eye disease early, as well as catch other health issues in their most treatable state.

Early detection of eye diseases

Eye disease can be tricky to identify without an eye exam since eye issues may initially go undetected by the average patient. Some common diseases for which your eye doctor always screens include cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. The initial symptoms of these diseases may not be perceptible without the tools and techniques at your doctor’s disposal.

With early detection and diagnosis of these and other eye conditions, your eye doctor can offer early treatment and recommend other necessary services, like surgery, sooner rather than later, which can ultimately protect you against vision loss and blindness. 

If you’re wary of surgical treatment, don’t let this stop you from keeping up with your routine eye appointments. Even the diagnosis of conditions like cataracts does not always immediately mean you need cataract surgery. Your doctor will give you all the information you need to care for your eyes and offer an individualized plan that best supports you and your vision. 

It’s not only older adults who should prioritize exams—healthy vision and proper eye function are critical at every age. For children, eye health and clear vision are fundamental to development. During your child’s exam, your doctor will check their eyes for conditions like amblyopia, or lazy eye, which develops when the brain and eye do not work together properly. They’ll also look for strabismus, or crossed eye, which can progress to amblyopia if left untreated. 

Routine examinations for children are among our core offerings at Beyond Vision Center. We also offer vision therapy, which can help correct amblyopia and strabismus, as well as learning-related vision problems, visual perceptual dysfunction, oculomotor dysfunction, double vision, accommodation dysfunction, and more.

Your eyes can point to other health conditions

In addition to checking your vision and screening your eyes for eye disease, eye doctors can also detect other health conditions during a comprehensive eye exam. In fact, your eye doctor can detect over 270 systemic and chronic diseases during your eye exam. An eye exam can lead to the early diagnosis of conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and certain types of cancer.

What to expect during a comprehensive eye exam

girl getting eyes tested

During your exam, your doctor will complete several different tests and screenings to check your vision, eye function, and health. These include tests for visual acuity, color deficiencies, peripheral vision, and eye pressure. They’ll also examine your cornea, lens, retina, optic nerve, and the blood vessels in your eye, checking their structure and their function. You’ll need to have your eyes dilated to complete some of these tests, so be sure to bring a pair of sunglasses with you to your appointment, as dilation will make your eyes sensitive to light after your exam.

How often should you get your eyes checked?

Regular eye exams are a critical component of your routine, annual medical care—be sure to factor them in when you’re making your yearly appointments. While for many people, an annual exam is sufficient to keep their eyes in good health, if you have already been diagnosed with an eye condition or if you have a history of eye disease in your family, your doctor may want to see you more frequently. This is one reason it’s so important to share family history information with your eye doctor.

If you’re considering making an appointment for your child, you may be curious about when to start taking them to the eye doctor. We recommend an infant exam at 6 months—we know, that's very young! The importance of early exams underscores the link between eye health and more general health, at any age. If your doctor does not have any concerns about your child’s vision, they should have their eyes checked again around age 3.

Signs to call your doctor immediately

If you’re experiencing sudden or persistent symptoms, you should not wait for your next eye exam. Contact your eye doctor right away if you notice the following:

  • Eye pain
  • Double vision
  • Flashes of light
  • Halos around lights
  • Floaters in eyes
  • Decreased vision
  • Eye redness or draining

The problem with apps and online tests

You may have seen services online that promise to examine your eyes, and maybe even provide prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses, without requiring a visit to your doctor’s office. However, these “eye check apps” and other online examinations only offer vision screening. In other words, they only check a patient’s refractive error, which does not provide enough information about a proper course of treatment, or even necessarily indicate the right choice for contacts or prescription lenses. Just as importantly, these apps do not check for eye disease, which is a critical component of eye health and vision. 

Trust credentialed professionals

There’s no replacement for in-person, professional care when it comes to your eyes. The tests and screenings we perform during examinations in our office have no online equivalent, and our doctors’ world-class expertise is beyond compare. 

When you visit us at Beyond Vision Center, you can trust that you and your eyes will receive the gold-standard in thorough treatment and compassionate care. With a combination of clinical and private practice our doctors are the ideal team to not only meet, but exceed all your vision needs.

Contact our office

Care for your eyes today so that you can enjoy the many benefits of eye health tomorrow—and for years to come. At Beyond Vision Center, we are renowned vision experts, and we are proud to offer comprehensive eye examinations for all patients of all ages. With locations in Carlsbad and Encinitas, there is always an office closeby. Make your appointment today—we can’t wait to see you!