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Eye Exams

March 11, 2010 - Rodney Smith

Readers, I am frequently asked how often someone should have their eyes checked. And at what age these exams should start.

I always begin by stating that routine eye exams are an important part of preventive health care. I know from experience that many people only come in for an exam if they are having problems with their glasses. Or, if they don't wear glasses, sometimes don't come in at all! However, what needs to be kept in mind is that many eye and vision problems have no obvious symptoms. Because these problems can present without any overt symptoms, it is possible to have a vision problem- sometimes a very serious vision problem- and be unaware that it exist. This means practicing preventive medicine and having regular eye exams to make sure any problems are diagnosed and treated sooner rather than later.

That being said, most people should have their eyes checked every one to two years. This recommendation is from the American Optometric Association (AOA). Specifically, the AOA says that between the ages of 6 to 18 years vision should be checked annually. I generally expand this group to include everybody in school, including college.

 Between the ages of 18-60 years the AOA recommends every two years. Or, if “at risk,” annually. Patients at risk include patients

    +with diabetes or high blood pressure
    +a family history of ocular disease, like macular degeneration or glaucoma
    +taking prescription drugs with ocular side effects
    +use contact lenses.

That is when those of us six years of age or more should have their eyes checked. But what about those under the age of six? The answer surprises many, but the first eye exam should be at 6 <b>months</b> of age. Again, I know from experience, that his surprises many people. However, just like we routinely take our kids to the pediatrician, they need to routinely have their eyes examined by an eye doctor. This is preventative medicine done to look for a need for glasses, lazy eyes, and any ocular disease- like congenital cataracts or retinal tumors like retinoblastoma.

After the first exam 3 years of age is a good age for the next exam. Then again at five years of age. Then, as discussed, every year while they are in school.

Dr. Smith practices inside Target in Cape Coral and can be reached at (239) 573-4743 or




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