Routine Eye Exams

New York Eye ExaminationsFrequency of Eye Examinations

Each year, many people experience a decrease in vision due to progressive diseases or conditions of the eye. Often, there are no symptoms indicating something is wrong, as with glaucoma. Therefore, to insure the health of your eyes, a thorough examination by a skilled eye doctor is essential to safeguard your sight.

As a general rule persons under forty should have an eye examination every two years unless there are obvious diseases or adverse conditions of the eye. Individuals over forty face an increased incidence of several conditions that can jeopardize sight; therefore, an eye examination every year is strongly recommended. See the section below regarding vision screening recommendations for patients age 40+ for more details.


The Comprehensive, Dilated Eye Examination

A comprehensive examination that assesses the health and function of your eyes is a wise investment toward protecting your eyesight. Tests are conducted to assess your visual acuity (the sharpness of your vision). The internal pressure of the eye is measured to check for glaucoma. The internal and external structures of the eye are observed to detect the presence of disease or other abnormalities that may impair your vision or affect your health.

To allow the doctor the best view of the internal structures of the eye, your eye will be dilated through the use of eye drops. These drops cause the iris to open wide, giving the doctor a good view inside your eye. While your eyes are dilated, close work or reading may be difficult, and bright sunlight may be annoying. The effects of the dilating drops usually begin to subside after a few hours; however, it is wise to bring good sunglasses to help you see in bright sunlight following a dilated eye exam.

Recommendations are offered for protection and improvement in your eyesight. Should you require corrective lenses, a procedure known as a refraction is conducted to determine the prescription that is best for you. Custom fitting of contact lenses plus instruction on their care and use is also available from your eye doctor. If you desire glasses, you may take the prescription to an optical dispensary of your choice.


Non-dilated Eye Exam

As a convenience for those individuals who must return to work after the examination or cannot wait for the effects of the dilation drops to abate, non-dilated eye examinations are available. If there are indications for a thorough assessment of the interior of the eye, the doctor will schedule a dilated examination at a later date and time.

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Vision Screening Recommendations for Adults, Age 40+

Starting around age 40, symptoms of many eye diseases begin to emerge. In fact, many patients this age begin to develop eye diseases without any symptoms at all. Consequently, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says it is crucial for adults to get a baseline eye examination at age 40, even if they have no symptoms of, or no risk factors, for eye disease.
Possible Diseases: Early signs of age-related eye diseases, including cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration can begin in midlife but often do not noticeably affect the vision until later. For women this is particularly important because women are more likely than men to have glaucoma and women are also more likely to be visually impaired or blind due to glaucoma. Also, women are 24 percent less likely to be treated for glaucoma. Cataracts are also somewhat more common in women.
Risk Factors: Systemic health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes that may be diagnosed or become more problematic in midlife can also affect eye health. One warning sign of both high blood pressure and diabetes is when the ability to see clearly changes frequently. Be sure to keep your eye doctor informed about your health conditions and use of medications and nutritional supplements, as well as your exercise, eating, sleeping and other lifestyle choices as they may affect your eye health. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, or have a family history of it, a baseline eye exam at age 40 and regular follow ups are essential.
Preventive Measures: Believe it or not, exercise and sleep are good for your eyes. Eyes need good blood circulation and oxygen intake, and both are stimulated by regular exercise. As we age, however, exercise sometimes becomes more difficult. Try to engage in regular exercise to help keep weight in the normal range, which reduces the risk of  diabetes and of diabetic retinopathy. Gentler exercise, including walking, yoga, tai chi, or stretching and breathing, can also be effective ways to keep healthy. It is also important to have healthy sleep habits, since, as we sleep, our eyes clear out irritants such as dust, allergens, or smoke that may have accumulated during the day. In addition, some research suggests that light-sensitive cells in the eye help our ability to regulate our wake-sleep cycles. This becomes more crucial as we age, when more people have problems with insomnia. While it’s important that we protect our eyes from over-exposure to UV light, our eyes also need exposure to some natural light every day to help maintain normal sleep-wake cycles.
By age 65, one in three Americans will have a vision-impairing eye disease. The earlier these eye diseases are discovered and treated, the better the chances are of preserving good vision. In particular, people who are diabetic or pre-diabetic need to have regular eye exams and work with their doctors to control weight and blood sugar as well as blood pressure and cholesterol.
* Statistics courtesy of American Academy of Ophthalmology, Eye Smart division.