Recommended Examination Frequency For the Pediatric Patient

It is recommended that all children have a dilated eye examination by the age of 1 to help detect any possible developmental delays to their eyes and visual health.

Children should have their eyes re-examined at age 3-4, prior to starting school, to help detect any changes in refractive error. At this age, eye focusing problems may be detected which can affect a child’s ability to learn to read.

A yearly examination is recommended to maintain an accurate spectacle prescription and to monitor proper visual function.

Prematurity, low birth weight, oxygen at birth, grade III or IV intraventricular hemorrhageChildren considered to be at risk for the development of eye and vision problems may need additional testing or more frequent re-evaluation. Factors placing an infant, toddler, or child at significant risk for visual impairment include:

  •     Family history of retinoblastoma, congenital cataracts, or metabolic or genetic disease
  •     Infection of mother during pregnancy (e.g., rubella, toxoplasmosis, venereal disease, herpes, cytomegalovirus, or AIDS)
  •     Difficult or assisted labor, which may be associated with fetal distress or low Apgar scores
  •     High refractive error
  •     Strabismus
  •     Anisometropia
  •     Known or suspected central nervous system dysfunction evidenced by developmental delay, cerebral palsy, dysmorphic features, seizures, or hydrocephalus

Recommended Examination Frequency For the Adult Patient

It is recommended that adults ages 18-60 have a dilated eye examination every 1-2 years or as determined by their eye care professional. Patients over age 60 should an eye examination annually. Patients determined to be at-risk should see their eye care professional as recommended.

Patients at risk include those:

  •     with diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of ocular disease (e.g., glaucoma, macular degeneration)
  •     working in occupations that are highly demanding visually or eye hazardous
  •     taking prescription or nonprescription drugs with ocular side effects
  •     wearing contact lenses
  •     who have had eye surgery
  •     with other health concerns or conditions.

A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the normally clear lens of the eye. Depending upon its size and location, it can interfere with normal vision. Most cataracts develop in people over age 55, but they occasionally occur in infants and young children. Usually cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in America. It results from changes to the macula, a portion of the retina that is responsible for clear, sharp vision and is located at the back of the eye.

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the internal pressure in your eyes increases enough to damage the nerve fibers in your optic nerve and cause vision loss. The increase in pressure happens when the passages that normally allow fluid in your eyes to drain become clogged or blocked. The reasons that the passages become blocked are not known.

Spots (often called floaters) are small, semi-transparent or cloudy specks or particles within the vitreous, which is the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eyes. They appear as specks of various shapes and sizes, threadlike strands or cobwebs. Because they are within your eyes, they move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly.

Spots are often caused by small flecks of protein or other matter trapped during the formation of your eyes before birth. They can also result from deterioration of the vitreous fluid, due to aging; or from certain eye diseases or injuries.

Most spots are not harmful and rarely limit vision. But, spots can be indications of more serious problems, and you should see your optometrist for a comprehensive examination when you notice sudden changes or see increases in them.

By looking in your eyes with special instruments, your optometrist can examine the health of your eyes and determine if what you are seeing is harmless or the symptom of a more serious problem that requires treatment.

People with dry eyes may experience symptoms of irritated, gritty, scratchy, or burning eyes, a feeling of something in their eyes, excess watering, and blurred vision. Advanced dry eyes may damage the front surface of the eye and impair vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition occurring in persons with diabetes, which causes progressive damage to the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye. It is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that interferes with the body’s ability to use and store sugar, which can cause many health problems. Too much sugar in the blood can cause damage throughout the body, including the eyes. Over time, diabetes affects the circulatory system of the retina.

Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. They leak blood and other fluids that cause swelling of retinal tissue and clouding of vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.

Often there are no visual symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. That is why the American Optometric Association recommends that everyone with diabetes have a comprehensive dilated eye examination once a year. Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.

There's no substitute for the quality of life good vision offers. Adding certain nutrients to your diet every day - either through foods or supplements - can help save your vision. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients such as lutein/zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including macular degeneration and cataract formation. So, there is some truth to this old wives’ tale, but instead of focusing on carrots, we recommend a well-balanced diet.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin

  •     Lutein and zeaxanthin are important nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, as well as other foods, such as eggs. Many studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Vitamin C

  •     Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Scientific evidence suggests vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts, and when taken in combination with other essential nutrients, can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.

Vitamin E

  •     Vitamin E in its most biologically active form is a powerful antioxidant found in nuts, fortified cereals and sweet potatoes. It is thought to protect cells of the eyes from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals which break down healthy tissue.

Essential Fatty Acids

  •     Fats are a necessary part of the human diet. They maintain the integrity of the nervous system, fuel cells and boost the immune system. Two omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be important for proper visual development and retinal function.

Zinc

  •     Zinc is an essential trace mineral or 'helper molecule.' It plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, mostly in the retina and choroid, the vascular tissue layer lying under the retina.

Emerging Research

  •     In the last 20 years, eye health research has linked diet and nutrition with a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The ability to perceive depth in a 3D presentation turns out to be a highly sensitive test of a range of vision health indicators and much more sensitive than the standard eye chart that has been in use for 150 years. This is because 3D viewing requires that both eyes function in a coordinated manner, as they converge, focus and track the 3D image.

If you are not able to perceive images in 3D, it most likely means that you have a problem with binocular vision, or using both eyes together.

*All above data provided by the American Optometric Association. For more info, visit AOA.org.