The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

Aug 4, 2014 @ 10:00 AM — by Dr. Tom Sather

A woman in glasses, in front of an eye chartIt is commonly understood that regular visits to the physician are necessary for the prevention of disease and preservation of good health. However, eye problems can often go unrecognized if not examined by an optometrist or eye care professional. For this reason, it can be equally important to undergo regular eye exams in addition to other preventative medical care. Whether you are already experiencing vision problems or simply want to ensure the health of your eyes, a routine exam can be a crucial factor in the effectiveness of your treatment. To better understand the value of a professional eye exam, refer to the below information and services provided by our Bozeman eye center. 

When Is an Exam Necessary?

There is some disagreement among eye care professionals regarding the recommended frequency of routine exams. Still, nearly all doctors agree that regular exams are an invaluable way to diagnose the early onset of problems. For healthy patients with stable vision, an exam may not be needed more than once every other year. More frequent exams may be recommended for patients whose vision is continually changing, and certainly for those who undergo a sudden change or complication. Additionally, patients who are 60 years or older should consider an annual exam, as the risk of developing various eye diseases increases with age.   

Vision Screenings

As many patients might already know, a typical eye exam partially comprises a few tests to assess vision. This screening will help determine whether a patient’s vision has changed since his or her prior visit, and if so, what the cause of change may be. If a patient simply needs an updated prescription, that alone can be a significant improvement to one’s lifestyle and comfort. If a sudden change in vision is caused by an underlying complication, the appropriate treatment can be sought. Vision screenings generally include two tests:

  • Visual acuity testing: This test assesses the clarity of both eyes with regard to both near and distance vision. It is most often administered by asking patients to read or describe a chart as various lenses are held in front of the eyes.
  • Visual field testing: This simple test assesses a patient’s peripheral, or side, vision. This is usually accomplished through a confrontation field test, wherein the patient will be asked to identify an object located near the outside edge of his or her vision.      

Comprehensive Eye Health

Visual acuity may be the most common concern for an eye exam, but the overall health of an eye can be far more important. In a comprehensive exam, the optometrist will look for a number of potential complications, including:

  • Amblyopia: Also called a lazy eye, this is a condition in which an image is blurred or distorted due to a structural problem in one eye. Contrary to popular belief, many lazy eyes appear normal even as they affect the person’s vision.
  • Strabismus: This occurs when eyes become “crossed” or out of alignment. In left untreated, this condition may lead to amblyopia.
  • Diseases: Eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinitis, and conjunctivitis can be identified before they pose a significant threat to one’s vision and health. Even when an eye is healthy, an optometrist can identify potential risk factors, letting patients know if they are likely to develop such diseases in the future.  

Additionally, an experienced optometrist can often ascertain important details about a patient’s health from his or her eyes. In some cases, patients may learn that they suffer from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes through a comprehensive exam.

Schedule Your Next Exam with Us

Regular eye exams aren’t just a way to test your vision - they’re a necessary preventative measure against disease and potential complications. If you haven’t undergone an exam in the past few years or have experienced recent problems with one or both of your eyes, schedule your next appointment at our office today.