How Often Should You Go to the Eye Doctor?
Reviewed by Andrea Miller, Health Editor
The timing of your optometry or ophthalmology appointments depends largely on your eye health, age and other personal factors. If your eyes are healthy and your risks of eye diseases are low, you likely won't need to go as often as someone with vision issues. Knowing when to go for a vision exam can help you stay on top of your eye health.
So, how often should you go to the eye doctor? If your eyes are healthy and your vision is good, you don't have to go very often. The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests one eye exam in your 20s and two in your 30s in this situation. After age 40, your eye doctor should tell you how often you should have exams. This typically means scheduling with your doctor at intervals of two to four years between ages 40 and 54 and every one to three years when you're 55 to 64. Starting at age 65, you may need an exam every year or every other year.
If you have vision issues, you'll need to go to the eye doctor more often. You should go once per year if you wear contact lenses. Contact prescriptions typically only last about a year, so you'll need to get your prescription updated to get more contacts. Those who wear glasses often need to go every one or two years, or more often if they feel like their vision is getting worse.
You should schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist immediately if you notice vision changes or suspect that you have an eye infection. Flashes of light, floaters and other sudden vision disturbances should be evaluated.
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You should still have your vision tested occasionally, even if you aren't having issues. A routine vision appointment involves more than just determining whether you need glasses. Eye doctors also check the health of your eyes to spot potential issues early when they're easier to treat. Having at least occasional eye exams can prevent you from having major complications or losing your vision later in life. Work with your eye doctor to decide how often you should visit.
How often should you go to the eye doctor for other eye health tests? Your eye doctor will likely run a battery of tests each time you go to check for eye diseases or other vision health concerns. One type of test that can be extremely important is glaucoma screening. It's especially important if you have a higher risk of glaucoma. From ages 40 to 54, a test every one to three years is recommended. From 55 to 64, it should happen every year or every other year, and at 65 and older, you may need to be screened every six months or every year. Your eye doctor can recommend other screenings beyond the typical eye exam tests based on your individual eye health and risk factors.
If you don't have any vision issues or risk factors, you should have your first eye exam no later than age 40. Going earlier can help create a baseline and make it easier for your eye doctor to spot problems. If you have risk factors for eye diseases, such as being diagnosed with diabetes or having a family history of disease, it's a good idea to start eye exams in your 20s.
If you have kids, your pediatrician or family doctor should do vision screenings at their regular well-child visits. They don't typically need to see an ophthalmologist unless their primary care provider spots an issue with their vision or eye health or you have concerns about their eyes. If they need glasses, your kids will likely need to have an eye doctor exam yearly or as recommended by their ophthalmologist.
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