Why do I need annual eye exams?

When you’re thinking about your health, the one thing you’re probably not thinking about are your eyes– and why would you when your vision is perfectly fine. Your iPhone appears crisp, you don’t squint, and your night vision is comparable to a Tarsier. However, is clear vision indicative of healthy eyes?

Maybe– but with over 22 million Americans with cataracts, 2.3 million with glaucoma, 2 million with age-related macular degeneration, and 3 out of 4 with vision correction, you may want to reconsider your annual eye exams. So why are eye exams important? Here is a list of the most common eye problems you are at risk of developing.

Refractive errors. Most commonly associated reason for an eye exam is to get an updated prescription for a new pair of glasses or contact lenses. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are categorized by refractive errors.

Vision developmental delays in children. From birth to 6 months, a newborn’s vision is normally blurry and begins to improve as the child’s eyesight develops in both eyes. However, there can be delays and problems during development such as Amblyopia, Infantile Cataract, Retinopathy, and Strabismus.

Learning-related vision problems. It is estimated that up to 80% of what a child learns is done through his/her eyes. So good vision is essential for students of all ages to reach their full academic potential. Specific vision problems can contribute to a child’s learning problems. Identifying all causes for learning-problems (including vision) increases the chances that the problem can be successfully treated.

Macular Degeneration. A leading cause of blindness, Macular Degeneration is characterized by damage to the area of the retina. While there is no known cure, there are treatments to help slow down the progression of the disease. Seeing your doctor regularly can help you catch symptoms early enough.

Glaucoma. The second leading cause of blindness, glaucoma has few or no early symptoms– about half of Americans with glaucoma don’t know they have it. Your ophthalmologist can perform routine tests to help detect glaucoma.

Cataracts. Characterized by a clouding of the lens in the eye, most cataracts are age-related and more common in people aged 50 and older. However, they can develop at any age. Dilated eye exams can help detect cataracts.

Amblyopia. Misaligned eyes, unequal refractive errors, and obstruction of the visual system can all be associated to Amblyopia. Children with a family history of Amblyopia (lazy eye) are at a higher risk of developing this disease. Early detection is key in preventing permanent vision loss.