Who should have an eye exam?
The AOA recommends the first comprehensive eye exam, including dilation of pupils for an internal ophthalmoscopic exam, should occur at 6 months of age, or even sooner if the parents or pediatrician notice a problem. A comprehensive eye exam is performed at the eye doctor’s office and is more involved than the screening given by the pediatrician or the school nurse.
What happens during an eye exam?
Eye exams are not painful. The eye doctor and technicians will test the eyes for vision, health and the need for vision correction. The doctor will examine your eyes with a biomicroscope, including the outside and the inside. Your eyes may be imaged so that the peripheral retina and internal structures may be examined. Glasses may or may not be prescribed, depending on your needs. Diagnoses and treatment plans, if any, will be discussed. The whole visit usually takes about 30 minutes, depending on whether there are special issues, or contact lenses are involved, or if dilation of the pupils is done.
How often should I have my eyes examined?
Everyone should have a yearly eye examination, whether they wear glasses or not. Anyone with vision symptoms or chronic eye diseases will need to have exams more often than yearly. Adults who have had LASIK or other eye surgery still need a yearly eye exam to monitor the health of their eyes and detect problems early. People with diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure need eye exams at least yearly and perhaps more, depending on the condition of the eyes.
Why are my eyes so dry?
Click here for our full dry eye frequently asked questions.
My child sees very well and always passes the vision tests given by the pediatrician and the school nurse. Is there any reason for her to have a full eye exam?
Yes. A comprehensive eye exam tests vision but also monitors eye health. The key to preventing vision loss in most cases is early detection of problems, so that treatment may be started before permanent damage is done. There are some conditions that develop in childhood that are sometimes not detectable except with an eye exam, such as strabismus, “lazy eye,” hyperopia, astigmatism and binocular vision problems, among others. Some learning problems stem from vision difficulties, because 80% of learning occurs through vision.
At what age can my child start wearing contact lenses?
Children may start wearing contacts as soon as they are mature enough to insert and remove their own contacts, and properly clean and care for their own contacts. For some kids this occurs around age 11 or 12, but this age varies with the child. Everyone who wears contacts must still have up-to-date glasses, since it is not healthy to wear contacts all waking hours, or on days when eyes are irritated.
How do sunglasses protect my eyes?
Sunglasses with 100% ultraviolet protection guard against the radiation damage that may lead to early cataract development, macular degeneration and melanoma of the eyes, among other problems.
If my mother had cataracts and macular degeneration, am I more likely to get those diseases?
Yes. Studies show that genetics play a role in the development of many eye conditions, including Macular Degeneration. Sunshades, vitamins and thorough eye exams are your best defense against permanent loss of vision from such conditions.
I see floaters in my vision sometimes. Is this dangerous?
Many people have floaters that are harmless, but floaters also can be a symptom associated with retinal holes, tears and detachments. Anyone with floaters should have a yearly comprehensive eye exam to make sure that sight-threatening conditions are not developing. A sudden, dramatic increase in floaters, or the sudden appearance of flashing lights, is an emergency; Eye Contact offers 24/7 on-call eye emergency service, which may be reached by calling 713-520-6600.
Are eye infections dangerous? What should I do if I get one?
Some eye infections are indeed aggressive and could cause scarring or permanent damage to the eyes. It is impossible to properly diagnose an eye infection without examining the eyes with a biomicroscope (the instrument you rest your head in while the doctor shines a light into your eyes). If the wrong medications are taken for an eye infection, it can in some cases make the damage worse. Some medications are not safe for young children. If you are experiencing pain, redness, light sensitivity, or a reduction in vision, you may have an eye infection or injury. You should see your eye doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and fast treatment. Never wear contact lenses if your eyes are not feeling well.
My eye doctor says I have cataracts, but I see just fine. How can this be?
Cataracts develop slowly over time, causing a gradual loss of sharpness or an increase in glare. Early cataracts often do not impair vision. Since cataracts usually are not dangerous or harmful to the eyes, it is not necessary to have surgery to remove cataracts until the vision is so compromised as to be bothersome on a daily basis. Cataracts should be examined every 6-12 months to determine when surgery is necessary.
I saw an advertisement on television that said it was ok to sleep in my brand of contacts. So why did my doctor tell me never to sleep in my contacts?
Wearing contact lenses (even the brands with the latest technology) restricts the flow of oxygen to certain parts of the eye, which can cause permanent, irreversible damage to the eyes over long periods of time. The FDA has approved limited sleeping in certain contacts for certain types of patients, because those contacts pass more oxygen through to the cornea than ordinary contact lenses, so the eyes are able to breathe better. However, there is another type of damage that occurs with the overwear of contacts: Infections or ulcers, a type of “bedsore” that forms on the eye overnight or sometimes even during the day with contact lens overwear. Most ulcers leave an opaque scar, which can permanently impair vision. It is recommended (even for healthy people without any problems with their eyes or contacts) that contact lenses be removed at least 3 waking hours before bedtime to reduce the risk of damage to the eyes; some patients must limit their contact lens use even more than this. Contact lenses should never be worn while sleeping.
I don’t throw my contacts away until they start to become uncomfortable. Is this ok?
Replacement intervals for contact lenses are determined by FDA safety testing. Contacts that are old may have deposits on their surface, degraded surface coatings, or tiny, microscopic tatters around their edges. These imperfections provide increased opportunity for organisms to colonize, and result in an increased risk of infections and ulcers, which can cause scarring and permanent reduction in vision. Never keep contacts longer than prescribed by your eye doctor. Never, ever, put a contact lens in your mouth.