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When to Schedule An Eye Exam

Vision Screening Recommendations

Vision screening is one of the most important parts of your family's health care. Many serious eye disorders can be prevented or treated if detected soon enough. Eye Care Specialists' team and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend that people have their eyes checked at the following stages:

At birth

A pediatrician should check your baby's eyes as part of a comprehensive newborn exam. An ophthalmologist will be called if the eyes are cloudy, infected, or appear abnormal. A thorough eye exam is also required if the baby was born premature, has a low birth weight, or required oxygen treatment. Babies who have been exposed to maternal rubella, venereal diseases or AIDS-related infections, or those with a family history of retinoblastoma (a form of eye cancer), unusual metabolic disorders (e.g. galactosemia), or infantile cataracts should also be promptly evaluated.

Six months of age

Your infant's doctor should check that your child's eyes are straight (not crossed in or out as with "strabismus") and that each eye can fix and follow a light or toy (unlike children with a "lazy eye" or "amblyopia"). The doctor will also make certain that light reflects and passes through the eye normally and that the tear ducts work properly.

3 1/2 years of age

Your child’s doctor should confirm proper development and alignment of the eyes and lids, as well as examine the internal structures of the eye with a hand-held instrument called an ophthalmoscope. He or she should test your child's exact visual acuity (e.g. 20/20) using charts with tumbling Es, pictures or letters. Any unusual findings should prompt an immediate referral to an eye care specialist.

Age 5

Most schools provide annual visual screenings. The most common eye problem found during these tests is "nearsightedness" (inability to see letters or objects at a distance). Some authorities feel that the start of school is an appropriate time for the first visit to an eye doctor. He or she can then recommend the frequency of follow-up examinations based on your child's condition.

The teen years

Most young people have healthy eyes, but they still need to take care of their vision with an eye exam before age 20. Teenagers should be cautioned to use appropriate eye protection in chemistry, auto, shop, woodworking, and other classes, as well as when playing sports. Teenagers should also be well aware of the dangers of inappropriate contact lens wear and care.

Ages 20 to 39

Even people in this group can be affected by eye problems. As always, eye protection should be worn for sports, yard work, tasks involving chemicals, and any other activities that could cause eye injury. A complete eye exam is recommended at least once between the ages of 20 and 29, and at least twice between the ages of 30 and 39. If you have any of the risk factors listed later, you may need to be seen more often.

Ages 40 to 64

Besides scheduling a thorough dilated eye exam every two to four years, you should be aware of symptoms that may indicate a problem as listed in the “Symptoms & Risks” section.

Age 65 and older

Seniors should have complete eye exams every one to two years to check for cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and other conditions.

When Was Your Last Eye Exam?

Remember, the best way to protect your vision is to schedule regular, thorough, dilated eye exams to check for hidden signs of sight-threatening conditions. Ask yourself and your family members—"When was your last eye exam?" If it was more than two years ago, it's time to pick up the phone.

For more information or a comprehensive examination . . .

Since 1985, Eye Care Specialists has provided comprehensive medical, surgical and laser care for virtually every eye condition to more than 200,000 people. If you would like one of our free educational booklets on any of the eye concerns reviewed on this website, please complete this form or call our Communications & Education Department at 414-321-7520 ext. 207. To schedule a comprehensive eye examination or a second opinion evaluation, call any of our three convenient Milwaukee-area locations directly.

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