Regular eye exams are often perceived as unnecessary unless something is obviously awry, but such a notion overlooks the wide range of benefits that such exams can provide.
Children are often not able to verbalise or are unaware of the fact that their vision is not as clear as it should and could be. Oftentimes, poor vision can manifest itself as behavioural problems and poor performance in a school setting, when the solution is simply a pair of spectacles. Unfortunately, many children’s vision problems go undetected for years.
It is common for children to first develop myopia in late childhood and early adolescence, and their prescription will often progress and change as they mature. As a result, regular eye tests are critical for children of all ages.
It is important to remember for people of all ages that eye exams entail more than just vision tests – just because you’re seeing clearly doesn’t mean your eyes are healthy. Eye exams will screen your eyes for a number of diseases, and catch any problems in their early stages when they are easiest to treat. Only a small proportion of the retina is key for central vision and therefore an eye health condition may or in many cases may not affect your vision.
For example, eye tests can detect strabismus, or misaligned eyes. If undetected, strabismus can lead to amblyopia, or lazy eye, as the brain learns to disregard one of the two images. Congenital cataracts and anisometropia, or varied refractive error between eyes, can also cause amblyopia. Once detected, all of these conditions can be remedied. If a child does have or develop amblyopia, however, treatments are significantly more effective on younger children than on older children or adults.
Eye tests can also lead to early identification and treatment of diabetic retinopathy, which affects the vast majority of individuals with diabetes, and can eventually lead to blindness.
Though eye exams are recommended once every two years for the majority of the population, older individuals are often advised to be screened on an annual basis, as they are more susceptible to a number of eye conditions. Cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are three examples of these conditions, all of which can be more effectively treated if detected early.