Regular eye tests are important because they help identify and track changes in your eye health as well as vision. Especially since several potentially blinding eye diseases like glaucoma and age related macular degeneration have no symptoms in the early stages, regular eye exams are very important for early diagnosis and treatment. In addition to the annual comprehensive eye test with your eye doctor, here are some signs that you need an eye exam.
Decrease in vision: Any decrease in vision for near or distance is a clear sign that you need an eye exam. This can manifest as problems in reading, threading a needle (for near vision) and difficulty in reading road signs, off the blackboard, or watching television (for distance vision). The most common cause of decrease in vision is the need for glasses, called refractive error, but a comprehensive eye exam is needed to rule out disease conditions like cataract, AMD etcetera.
Changes in night vision: Any changes in night vision, including glare may be the first sign of vision problems, especially in adults. If you see coloured haloes around headlights, or have problems with vision in low light, it is a clear sign that you need an eye exam.
Eye infection, redness, pain and discharge: Any symptoms of the eye like redness, pain and discharge can mean an infection or an allergy. The former may be contagious and carry the risk of permanent damage. When these symptoms are associated with a decrease in vision, it is a sign of an eye emergency, and you must see your eye doctor immediately. Any associated sensitivity to light can also indicate an inflammation inside the eye, and must not be ignored.
Frequent headaches, migraines and eye fatigue: Headaches and eye strain, as well as fatigue can result from stress, excessive use of screen devices and refractive errors. More sinister causes of headaches like raised pressure inside the brain can also be detected by a comprehensive eye examination. So persistent headaches are a clear sign that you need an eye exam to rule out any serious underlying conditions.
Any anomalies of lid margin, position or alignment of eyes: in case of drooping of eyelids (called ptosis), inward or outward turning of the lid margin (called entropion and ectropion, respectively) as well as any bulging of the eyeball (called proptosis) are signs that you need an eye exam. Any change in the alignment of eyes or squint, is also an indication to seek an appointment with your eye doctor.
Diagnosis of diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disease, autoimmune diseases, arthritis: Diagnosis of diseases which are known to affect the eye means that you must seek an eye exam with your ophthalmologist to establish an eye health and vision baseline, as well as diagnose any latent abnormalities. This also includes the prescription of certain medications for depression, asthma and arthritis, all of which also have an impact on eye health.
Regular annual health check: while the above mentioned signs are a clear reason to seek an eye doctors opinion about your eye health and vision, one must not forget the importance of a regular eye exam. This annual eye health check is essential to make sure you enjoy perfect vision well into your golden years.