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How often should I get my eyes examined?

Eye Care Examinations

Robert K. Maloney (Ophthalmologist) gives expert video advice on: What can I expect during an eye exam?; Can I drive myself home after having my eyes dilated? and more...

How often should I get my eyes examined?

If you're over the age of 4, you should have an eye exam every year because you're at risk over the age of 4 of getting some significant eye diseases. Under the age of 4 it's probably worth having at least one baseline exam, and the same goes for your teens and 20s. An exam every few years after that. Although, if you wear glasses or contacts it probably ought to be every year. If you're a parent it's worth having your children examined when they're very young - preferably before the age of one and certainly before the age of two to make sure their eyes are properly aligned because that's so important to the development of the child's eyes.

What can I expect during an eye exam?

When you have you eye exam there will be a number of different steps. The doctor will get some information from you, take your history, check your vision by having you read an eye chart like the one behind me. He'll use a microscope to examine your eyes. He may dilate your pupils with eye drops and at the end of that he or she will tell you what's been found out and what, if anything, needs to be done. Perhaps the part of the eye exam that people like the least we call dilation. That means putting eye drops in your eyes to dilate you pupil the black part of you eye. By dilating the pupil the doctor can look through that into the inside of your eye and see your retina and nerve very clearly. That's a useful part of a comprehensive exam. Now the part that people don't like is that dilation last for about four hours and up to a day or two in some people and during that time you'll notice you're a little bit light sensitive. You can read as well but that's useful and necessary often to get a really good eye exam. So put up with the discomfort. Refraction means measuring your degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness or a stigmatism. That's what the doctors doing when he says, "Which is better one or two," he's essentially testing you for glasses, and that's a common part of the eye exam that's done most of the time. The reason we do all these test is both to find out if you need glasses and to make sure your eyes are healthy. So we look for all different kinds of eye diseases in all different parts of your eye.

Can I drive myself home after having my eyes dilated?

After your eyes are dilated, you can normally drive yourself home, but you'll have to wear whatever glasses you normally wear. Also, because your eyes are dilated, they let in a lot more light so everything is going to seem really bright. Your doctor should give you some little disposal sunglasses that you can tuck inside your regular glasses to shield you from that extra light, and to make it comfortable to get home. And we always say, drive especially carefully.