How often do you need to check your eyes?

Screening for eye diseases involves going to your eye care professionals such as optician, optometrist and ophthalmologist (eye doctor) to have your vision measured and eye examined thoroughly for any eye diseases.

Why bother having an eye examination when you do not have any problems, you may ask? This is because certain eye diseases (such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease or drug toxicity) may not give you any symptoms in the early stages of disease. However, when the vision is affected at the late stage, the condition may be so advance that the vision cannot be saved by either medication or surgery. The frequency for an eye check usually depends on the age of the person and any rich factors the person may have. These risk factors depends on whether the person wears glasses or contact lenses, family has history of eye disease, type of medical disease or medication the person is on.

It is recommended that normal healthy adults should have a comprehensive eye examination every two years. After the age of 60 years, the risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration is higher and as such, should have a yearly eye check. Those who are at risk of eye diseases should have more frequent eye examination.

Risk factors for adults include:

  • Persons on treatment for diabetes.
  • Persons on treatment for glaucoma ( known as high eye pressure)
  • A family history of eye disease (glaucoma and macular degeneration)
  • Taking medication that may have eye-related side effects such as chemotheraphy (causes dry eyes),
  • steroids (causes cataracts and glaucoma), hydroxychloroquine (causes maculpathy)
Age No symptoms & risk-free At Risk children

Age 18 to 60 years

Every 2 years

Every 4 to 12 months

Age 61 years onwards

Every year

Every 4 to 12 months

Adults who wear glasses

Every year

Every 4 to 12 months

Routine eye exams are essential for children to learn in school as most of the information children receive in classrooms are presented visually. Inability to see what the teacher has written on the black or white board can lead to poor comprehension and ultimately poor school results!

It is recommended that children should have their first eye examination at age three years and again at the start of school (around 6 years). Risk-free children should then continue to have their eyes examined every two years until age 18. Children who wear glasses or contact lenses should have their eyes examined yearly as the prescription may change within this period.

Children with risk factors for vision problems may need their first eye examination earlier and may need more frequent eye examinations throughout childhood. Risk factors for children include:

  • History of pre-maturity or low birth weight at birth
  • Family history of eye diseases such as lazy eye or squints
  • Developmental delay
Age No symptoms & risk-free At Risk children

Birth to age 6 years

One eye check by age of 6 years

One eye check by age of 1 year & as recommended thereafter

Age 6 to 18 years

Every 2 year

Every year

Children who wear glasses

Every year

Every year

How often do you need to check your eyes?


Using specialized equipment, the eye care professional can conduct an external and internal examination of the various parts of your vision system including the eyelashes, eyelids, conjunctiva, iris, lens, cornea, pupils, extra-ocular muscles, blood vessels, optic nerve and the retina. He will be able to determine whether you need glasses by measuring your refractive error which could be short-sightedness, long-sightedness or astigmatism.

An eye doctor will be required to determine whether you have any eye diseases.

A comprehensive eye test should include the following

Visual acuity

Refers to the measurement of your vision

Refraction

Determines whether you need glasses or not

Orthoptic test

Tests for present of squint (cock-eye)

Tonometry

Measure your eye pressure (normal range 10-21mmHg)

Slitlamp microscopy

Examines the cornea, conjunctiva and lens (to exclude cataract)

Ophthalmoscopy

Examines the retina (to look for retina tear or diabetic eye disease)

Who should I see for my eye test?


There are several types of eye care professionals namely ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. Who you should see depends on your needs.

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize and treat eye diseases and perform eye surgery. These eye doctors have completed medical school and have undergone additional post-graduate training in medical and surgical eye care.

Optometrist and Opticians are eye care professionals who can prescribe glasses and contact lenses. They are will-trained in refraction and can measure your prescription for your glasses or contact lenses. They can also help you choose the types of spectacles frames most suited to your face and recommend suitable lenses. Although they are not doctors, they have being trained to recognize simple eye diseases and will refer these patients to the ophthalmologist who will treat the eye diseases.

Summary

Two yearly

Adults (18 to 60 years) to screen for cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration
Children who do not wear glasses and have good vision

Yearly

Children of schooling age who wear glasses.
Adults over the age of 60 years.
Patients with family history of glaucoma.
Patients on treatment for diabetes for less than 10 years.

4-6 months

Patients on treatment for diabetes for more than 10 years.
Patients who have poorly controlled diabetes.
Patients on glaucoma treatment.