When to get your eyes tested?

Jamaica Gleaner - - WORLD SIGHT DAY - Dr Lizette Mowatt Con­trib­u­tor

AN EYE test is im­por­tant at dif­fer­ent times in our life. The fre­quency of eye ex­am­i­na­tion de­pends on your age and your prob­lem.

You will need an eye test at any age if you:

Are squint­ing to see things bet­ter.

Have blurred or dou­ble vi­sion.

Suf­fer from headaches or pain in your eyes.

Sees floaters and/or flash­ing lights.

Have a shadow in your vi­sion.

Have to bring things very close to see it (any age) or hold it fur­ther away than nor­mal to read (over 40 years)*.

Reg­u­lar eye tests are re­quired for:

Di­a­bet­ics (at least an an­nual di­lated eye ex­am­i­na­tion, or as de­ter­mined by your eye doc­tor)

Glau­coma pa­tients (ev­ery three-four months)

If you wear glasses/con­tact lenses (at least an­nu­ally)

Tak­ing pre­scrip­tions that have oc­u­lar side ef­fects (e.g., plaque­nil/chloro­quine/ steroids, etc)

IIIIIIIIIIBABIES AND CHIL­DREN:

All pre­ma­ture ba­bies born less than 32 weeks old ges­ta­tional age and less than 1500gm birth weight must be screened by an oph­thal­mol­o­gist (eye doc­tor) by six weeks of age. Prob­lems with the de­vel­op­ment of the eye can be picked up and treated early.

One in five chil­dren have an un­de­tected eye prob­lem, which can be de­ter­mined by vis­ual screening. The Amer­i­can Academy of Pae­di­atrics and the Amer­i­can Academy of Oph­thal­mol­ogy (AAO) rec­om­mend that your child’s eyes be screened for prob­lems at birth, at six months old and preschool (three to four years of age). Screening can be done in the ini­tial stage by the pae­di­a­tri­cian as­sess­ing the red re­flex and vi­sion.

A com­pre­hen­sive eye ex­am­i­na­tion must be per­formed by five years old by an eye doc­tor. Dur­ing a com­pre­hen­sive eye exam, the eyes are checked for glasses (re­frac­tive er­rors, e.g., near­sight­ed­ness/far­sight­ed­ness), squint (cast eye), am­bly­opia (lazy eye), etc, are ruled out. Schools may do vis­ual screening ev­ery two years and re­fer chil­dren to the eye doc­tor as re­quired. How­ever, if you think your child has vis­ual prob­lems take them to the eye doc­tor. Un­de­tected vi­sion prob­lems in chil­dren can lead to headaches, bad be­hav­iour and poor grades.

ADULTS:

20-39 years old who are healthy, with no eye com­plaints, don’t wear glasses, no his­tory of eye in­jury/surgery and no fam­ily his­tory of eye dis­ease should be tested ev­ery five years, ac­cord­ing to the AAO guide­lines, ap­ply­ing only to adults with no med­i­cal ill­ness or risk fac­tors for eye dis­ease. How­ever, the Amer­i­can Op­to­met­ric As­so­ci­a­tion rec­om­mends this group have an eye test ev­ery two years.

Over 40 years old, ev­ery 12-18 months. (May need read­ing glasses)*

Over 60 years old (rul­ing out cataracts and glau­coma), ev­ery 12-18 months.

SPECIAL SIT­U­A­TIONS:

Some groups of peo­ple are at a higher risk, these in­clude:

Fam­ily his­tory of glau­coma: You must have reg­u­lar screening af­ter age 40.

Glau­coma pa­tients: Eye exam ev­ery three-four months, de­pend­ing on the sever­ity.

Di­a­bet­ics: Must have a base­line di­lated eye ex­am­i­na­tion by an oph­thal­mol­o­gist at diagnosis and an an­nual di­lated eye ex­am­i­na­tion; more fre­quently if eye prob­lems are noted dur­ing ex­am­i­na­tion. The oph­thal­mol­o­gist can see and treat the ill­ness BE­FORE they start to lose vi­sion. When di­a­betes re­sults in vis­ual loss, it can be very dif­fi­cult to treat and may re­quire surgery. Di­a­betes (di­a­betic retinopa­thy) is the third most com­mon cause of blind­ness in the USA.

Di­a­bet­ics have a higher risk of glau­coma and cataracts and retinopa­thy. Early de­tec­tion is crit­i­cal in the treat­ment of di­a­betes retinopa­thy. Reg­u­lar eye ex­am­i­na­tions are im­por­tant if you have an in­creased risk of eye prob­lems.

An eye exam can save you money long term – and your life – by iden­ti­fy­ing prob­lems and treat­ing them early, es­pe­cially in di­a­betic pa­tients.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

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