Eyecare experts recommend you have a complete eye exam every one to three years, depending on your age, risk factors, and physical condition.
Children. Some experts estimate that approximately 5% to 10% of pre-schoolers and 25% of school-aged children have vision problems. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), all children should have their eyes examined at 6 months of age, at age 3 and again at the start of school. Children without vision problems or risk factors for eye or vision problems should then continue to have their eyes examined at least every two years throughout school.
Children with existing vision problems or risk factors should have their eyes examined more frequently. Common risk factors for vision problems include:
The AOA recommends that children who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses should have their eyes examined at least every 12 months or according to their eye doctor's instructions.
Adults. The AOA also recommends an annual eye exam for any adult who wears eyeglasses or contacts. If you don't normally need vision correction, you still need an eye exam every two to three years up to the age of 40, depending on your rate of visual change and overall health. Doctors often recommend more frequent examinations for adults with diabetes, high blood pressure and other disorders, because many diseases can have an impact on vision and eye health.
If you are over 40, it's a good idea to have your eyes examined every one to two years to check for common age-related eye problems such as presbyopia, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Optometrists are the doctors who spend four years of schooling after college specifically dealing with the eye and vision. They are highly trained in evaluating your day to day vision care needs as they relate to glasses, contact lenses and factors that maximize visual comfort at work and play to include the use of vision therapy and ergonomics. Optometrists are also skilled in disease detection and can treat most eye diseases including conjunctivitis and glaucoma as well as detect systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. When advanced medical care or surgery is required, Optometrists refer to the appropriate Ophthalmologist for consultation.
Ophthalmologists attend medical school with their non eye care colleagues and spend residency working with advanced medical eye care and surgery. They have less experience with issues facing patients daily at work or play. They specialized in advanced eye care and surgery.
Eye exams are available in many settings, from discount optical stores to surgical offices, so the fees can vary widely. Additionally, fees can vary depending upon whether the exam is performed by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, and the type of services that are included in the exam.
Generally speaking, contact lens exams cost more than regular eye exams. Likewise, an additional or higher fee may be charged for specialized services such as laser vision correction evaluations.
Many insurance plans cover at least a portion of eye exam services. Check to see what your benefits are and which eye doctors in your area participate in your plan before you make an appointment. Then be sure to give your doctor's office your insurance information to verify coverage.
It's important to have some basic information ready at the time of your eye examination. Bring the following items to your exam:
Finally, also bring your medical or vision insurance card if you will be using it for a portion of your fees.
For more information on eye exams, visit All About Vision®.
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