How Often Should I Schedule An Eye Exam?

Published on 05/05/2022

Eye exam frequency varies from person to person depending on their age, health status, whether they wear glasses or not, and previous eye health history. However, as a general rule, we recommend scheduling eye exams following the guidelines set forth by the American Optometric Association (AOA).

Eye Exam Frequency: What’s Best For You?

Beyond the AOA’s general recommendations based on age, it’s important to know the difference between comprehensive eye exams versus vision screening. 

The first includes the use of screening tools and equipment that assess the anatomical health of the eye, looking for things like glaucoma, macular degeneration, or issues with the retina. For example, vision screening uses tools to assess vision acuity (focus) and includes the standard Snellen eye charts with tiered letters and numbers in varying sizes. We also offer pediatric eye exams. These use specialized testing and diagnostic processes easily tailored to the youngest of patients - even those who don’t know their letters or numbers yet!

Championing Children’s Eye Care

We’ve stolen that subheading straight off the AOO’s similarly named post. Many parents neglect to get a professional eye exam until their children show signs of diminishing vision or are referred to an optometrist by their pediatrician or a teacher. This undermines children’s natural adaptive ability - and can mean your toddler or child doesn’t have access to clear vision or a focused education. You should schedule comprehensive vision exams at the age six months and before children start school. After that, eye exam frequency is every other year unless your optometrist states otherwise.

Data shows that at least 20% (that’s two in ten!) of children have a diagnosable eye/vision condition requiring treatment. As we mentioned above, you don’t have to be literate to have your eyes tested. During pediatric eye exams, we catch the most common vision problems your child could be experiencing undetected, including:

  • Farsightedness, nearsightedness or astigmatism (an irregularly shaped cornea causing near- and farsightedness)
  • Lazy or crossed eyes (they don’t correct on their own and can become permanent if not corrected soon enough)
  • Color blindness
  • Binocular vision dysfunction (BVD)
  • Convergence insufficiency
  • Nystagmus (involuntary eye movements)
  • Pediatric cataracts

The sooner we catch these issues, the sooner your child will have access to the treatment or prescription lenses required to support clear and accurate vision.

Signs your child needs an eye exam

Some common signs your child needs an eye exam include:

  • Frequent blinking 
  • Winking or squinting one eye closed
  • Difficulty learning colors, letters, or numbers
  • Headaches
  • Tilting head to the side
  • Insisting on sitting too close to screens
  • Complaints of blurriness or eye strain/discomfort
  • Needing to sit in the front of the class to see the board or screen
  • Holding reading materials at unusual distances to read (too close or too far)
  • Eyes that wiggle, stray to one side, or aren’t equally positioned
  • Difficulty with reading retention

Pediatric exams continue until your child becomes an adult.

Years 20 To 39

Unless you have prescriptive lenses or a previously diagnosed eye condition, most adults between the ages of 20 and 39 only need to schedule a comprehensive exam once every two years. However, if you wear glasses or contacts, we recommend scheduling annual exams to keep your prescription current.

Like children, adult eyes can adjust to minor changes in vision without noticing, but that leads to eye strain. 

Signs you need an eye exam more frequently

In addition to those who already wear glasses, signs or indicators you need to schedule more frequent eye exams include:

  • More frequent headaches
  • Dizziness or notable eye strain when reading or shifting between near/far vision
  • Eye fatigue
  • New prescription medications (especially those considered high-risk or known to cause eye or vision issues)
  • A family history of eye disease
  • Your diagnosis of diabetes or heart disease/high blood pressure
  • Experiencing an eye trauma or injury in the past

Age 40 To 64

While you may have a vision prescription, it probably didn’t change much during your 20s and 30s. However, age-related physical changes to the lens mean most adults become more farsighted between the ages of 40 to 64. This requires the help of reading glasses, which we can incorporate into any existing eyeglass prescriptions via bifocal or progressive lenses.

This age range is also when adults are most likely to develop medical conditions that impact eye health and vision, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes. If this is the case for you, your optometrist may recommend increasing visits to once a year rather than every-other-year. Also, as screens take over our lives, we’re seeing increased cases of dry eye in this age range, and early diagnosis means a faster road to eye relief.

64 And Beyond…

By the time you reach 65, it’s time to schedule annual comprehensive eye exams. Many of the most common eye conditions diagnosed in adults 65+ require early diagnosis for the most effective treatments. This is why eye exam frequency increases after adults reach 40.

Common eye conditions for adults 65+

Eye conditions most likely to strike after age 60 are:

  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Age-related macular degeneration

A Healthy Lifestyle = Healthy Eyes

The eyes are part of the human body, so the health of the body directly impacts the health of your eyes. That’s why we emphasize the importance of diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices and their effect on eye and vision health. While certain conditions like near- and farsightedness may be unavoidable, others are directly related to your attention to overall health. 

The more patients emphasize eating a well-rounded and healthy diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits, exercising regularly, managing their weight, and exercising regularly, the less likely they will be diagnosed with the above age-related eye conditions. And, even if certain eye conditions run in the family, your healthy lifestyle choices may delay their onset and slow down their progression, optimizing treatment options.

Ready To Schedule Your Family’s Eye Exam?

Are you overdue for your next eye exam? Schedule an appointment for the whole family at Eye to Eye Family Vision Care.