If You’re Like Most Americans, You Don’t Know How Often to Get an Eye Exam
How often should you see your eye doctor? Chances are you don’t have a solid answer to that question. If not, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Surveys show most people don’t. But here’s what’s worse: common recommendations for eye exams vary widely, even among the most professional of organizations. No wonder there’s so much confusion for people hoping to elevate their visual lifestyle.
How often should you see your dentist?
I know this is a website about your eyes, but bear with me. If you answered “every six months,” you’re in good company. Although some recent trends suggest once per year (or even two) may be acceptable in some cases, the standard for more than 50 years has been to see your dentist every six months. It’s common knowledge, and not that confusing. So why the confusion about eye exams?
As I mentioned in my last post, there are plenty of reputable sources that disagree by a wide margin. I have seen recommendations to get an eye exam every six months, every year or two, and even every five or ten depending on age or health status. Let’s eliminate anything over five years from the start. That’s irresponsible self care for several reasons. But I’m also going to eliminate two, for reasons outlined below.
Now, I don’t mean to discredit any reputable doctors or organizations. But remember I am writing for people who understand and want to live the visual lifestyle. These are people who recognize vision as life’s most precious and fragile gift, and who are passionate about preserving, enjoying, enhancing, and celebrating it to the fullest. If you fall into that category, I may be preaching to the choir – no one I know who values their vision would agree to going a few years without an eye exam, let alone five or ten!
One of the best ways to ensure a lifetime of comfortable, clear vision and healthy eyes is to have a thorough, dilated eye examination by your trusted eye doctor every year.
You probably aren’t as healthy as you think. Some recommend getting an eye exam less often if you’re healthy. But modern society has proven that it doesn’t know what the word “healthy” even means. And it’s no secret we think we’re better than we are (and better than others), a concept known as illusory superiority. For example, too many people think if they have a salad once a week and remember to take their medications they’re living a healthy lifestyle. But if you take any medication at all, chances are it or the condition it treats has some effect on your eye health and vision. The best defense against illusory superiority is to recognize it exists, and don’t rely on your own assessment of your health. Get help, and have that eye examination yearly.
You don’t know if your eyes are healthy. Clear vision is the worst indicator of good eye health. I have patients with terrible vision who have healthy eyes, and I have patients with dangerous eye diseases who still can see quite well. Most eye diseases and conditions start slowly, with no signs or symptoms at all. You can’t see them or feel them. By the time vision changes occur, it’s too late to repair damage. That reason alone is worth the effort to have your eyes checked yearly.
You won’t miss out on custom visual solutions. Strangely, none of the common recommendations takes into account the visual part of the eye exam. Even if your eyes are healthy and you enjoy clear vision, chances are you could still benefit from custom visual solutions.
When was the last time you bought gear for your favorite hobby? Motorcyclists, golfers, skiers, artists, and a host of other hobbyists load up on gear to help them enjoy their hobby more or perform better. What someone spends on their sport or hobby may sound crazy to us. But when we spend it on our own hobby? Well, that makes sense because it’s ours. Even if you see clearly, there is probably a visual solution to improving your performance or enjoyment of your favorite hobby or pastime.
And how about work? Regardless of the industry, whether you work for yourself or someone else productivity is highly prized. What would you think if your eye doctor told you your vision was clear, but he or she could make you more productive at work with a simple visual solution? Most people I know would listen closely and jump at the opportunity.
You won’t miss out on new technology and information. There is new evidence high energy blue light damages our eyes. A digital designer was once asked if he had ever heard of the blue light from his computer screens, and if he’d be interested in using eyewear designed to relieve both the strain and unhealthy effects from it. “Of course,” the young man said, “computers are my life.” The point: although he seemed healthy and wasn’t experiencing vision problems, he still wanted to protect his eyes and improve his visual lifestyle at work. That’s not something he would have learned if he had put off an eye exam for five or ten years. The earlier you make your vision a priority, the better your chances of clear vision for life.
I have written in other posts how important it is to get help to elevate your visual lifestyle. If you want to enjoy a lifetime of clear, comfortable vision and healthy eyes, one of the best ways to ensure that is to have a thorough eye examination by your trusted eye doctor once every year.