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Visiting the eye doctor is extremely important in one’s life. In fact, it is just as important as making a visit to the dentist or any other health routine checkups. Most people don’t visit the eye doctor until they feel as though their vision has changed or become worse. What they do not know is that apart from vision, the eye doctor can catch serious problems with one’s health before there are any symptoms. They can also help monitor child development to ensure they succeed in school, sports, and other activities. According to Education Week, over 80 percent of what children are expected to learn in and outside of the classroom requires good vision. In addition, nearly one in three children have not had their vision tested in the past two years, if at all.

How often do I need to have an eye exam?

Young children should get a full eye exam before they turn one-year-old and again before kindergarten. Not scheduling this exam for your child can lead to countless learning difficulties and may lead to developmental delays. These exams are especially important if vision problems run in the family or if your child has certain risk factors including premature birth, developmental delays, or a family history of vision complications.

Healthy adults should get their eyes checked every now and then. However, these appointments should not be forgotten about. According to the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, healthy adults should make an appointment every few years, but more frequently as one gets older seeing as vision started to deteriorate with age.

However, if you suffer from conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease, lupus or have a family history of eye disease, you may need to make appointments more frequently.

If you already have problems relating to your vision, you should be examined as soon as you experience any symptoms such as changes in vision, changes in the vision of color, or changes in the field of vision.

Don’t put an eye exam off - why do I need to schedule checkups?

Scheduling a regular checkup at the eye doctor can prevent serious eye conditions or even detect and treat them before they grow into something more serious.

Many do not know that along with sun rays, screens like your laptop, television, and smartphones emit UV radiation that can damage the eye. As we continue to evolve into a digital age, studies have shown how too much screen time can deteriorate the eyes. It is important to limit screen time, take “blink breaks” if your job includes constantly looking at a screen for long periods of time, and invest in a screen protector that protects against UV radiation for your computer. Because of this, regular check-ups are important to treat symptoms associated with screen time usages such as strained, dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches.

Scheduling regular checkups as one gets older is very important. Eyesight in the elderly tends to deteriorate quite rapidly especially to those over the age of 65. In addition, getting regular checkups at this age can help treat and prevent prevalent geriatric eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.

What types of eye professionals are available?

When choosing an eye doctor, it is important to know what is available and the difference between the different kinds that exist under the blanket term “eye doctor”. There are three key terms to know regarding this:
  • Optician
  • Optometrist
  • Ophthalmologist

These are dependent on the level of care one would need.

Optician

At this level, opticians are limited to filling lens prescriptions and helping patients find lenses and frames. They also help adjust the frame to the patient's face according to its shape. Opticians usually have a one or two-year degree.

Optometrist

At this level, optometrists are generally the primary care doctor of the eye. They provide overall vision care and can perform tests to detect conditions and diseases in the eye such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, ocular melanoma, glaucoma, cataracts, and more. They can also prescribe medicine and corrective lenses for a patient. Optometrists must obtain a doctor of optometry (OD) education that includes four years of post-graduate training in that doctoral area.

Ophthalmologist

At this level, an ophthalmologist is classified as a medical doctor (MD) specializing in every aspect of vision care. Diagnosis, surgery of ocular diseases, and eye condition management are just a few aspects of an ophthalmologists job. On top of four years of undergraduate, ophthalmologists have completed four years of medical school, residency and internship training, and four to five years of postgraduate training in ophthalmology. They are also authorized to complete all of the thorough assessments and tests an optometrist is authorized to complete. This includes but is not limited to performing tests to detect conditions and diseases in the eye such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, ocular melanoma, glaucoma, cataracts, and more. They can also prescribe medicine and corrective lenses for a patient. A distinguishable aspect of ophthalmologists is that they can perform surgeries, diagnose complex medical eye conditions, and can prescribe a wider range of medications for more complex medical conditions.

Which professional is better for your eye health?

Eyes are the most important organs of sense in the body. They perceive impressions, protect from danger, and help us travel from one place to the other. In fact, vision takes up a larger part of the brain compared to all of the other senses. Since we only have one set of eyes, it is important to choose the best professional to take care of them. If available, an ophthalmologist is the best option based on their extensive education and medical training and ability.
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A portion of your purchase is donated to the Anath Foundation to help families on their cancer journey. Learn more about the impact of your purchase!

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