If it’s been a year or more since your last eye exam, then now is a good time to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. Just as an annual physical exam and routine dental cleanings are key to maintaining your physical and oral health, a routine eye exam helps maintain healthy eyes.
Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, an ophthalmologist in Hollywood, Florida, recommends patients have a comprehensive eye examination annually. If you have an underlying eye or medical condition, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, you could need more frequent visits.
Here are signs and symptoms to watch for — and more information to help you plan your next appointment with your eye doctor.
8 signs you need an eye exam
Getting your vision corrected or your prescription adjusted is only a small part of a comprehensive eye exam. More than anything, eye exams help maintain and manage the overall health of your eyes.
“Eyes should see well and be comfortable,” Mendelsohn says.
If you’re experiencing one of these symptoms, Mendelsohn says you should get checked out by your eye doctor right away:
• Declining vision
• Visual distortion
• Sensitivity to lights
• Diminished night vision
Most symptoms aren’t specific. For example, eye discharge may occur due to a bacterial, viral or fungal infection, or due to a foreign body. Have your eye doctor perform a comprehensive eye exam as soon as possible to determine the cause of the problem so you can start receiving the correct treatment right away.
What to expect at your eye exam
If you wear contact lenses or glasses, bring them along when you go for your eye exam. Also bring your sunglasses and a list of your medications, Mendelsohn says. Your lens prescriptions will be evaluated for accuracy, and your sunglasses will be evaluated for how well they protect against ultraviolet light. Your eye doctor will ask questions about your vision and medical history, medications and allergies.
Here are some tests usually included in a comprehensive eye exam to check your vision and measure how well different parts of your eyes are functioning:
• Visual acuity
• Visual field
• Eye muscle
• Pupillary testing
• Color vision
• Retinal exam
• Slit-lamp exam
• Glaucoma screening
“It’s important for pupils to be dilated so the physician can examine the eyes in their entirety, instead of missing potential problems,” Mendelsohn says. If your eyes are dilated during your exam, your near vision will be blurred for several hours, so you may want to have someone else drive you home. Your eye doctor also might do onsite diagnostic testing if your eye exam reveals any issues.