Get an eye exam regularly to help find problems early, when they may be easier to treat. The doctor will also do tests to make sure you are seeing as clearly as possible.
How often do I need an eye exam?
How often you need an eye exam depends on your risk for eye disease. Talk to your doctor about how often to get your eyes tested.
Get an eye exam every 1 to 2 years if you:
- Are over age 60
- Are African American and over age 40
- Have a family history of glaucoma
People with diabetes may need eye exams more often.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to get your eyes tested at least once a year. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.
What happens during an eye exam?
- The doctor will ask you questions about your health and vision.
- You will read charts with letters and numbers so the doctor can check your vision.
- The doctor will do tests to look for problems with your eyes, including glaucoma.
- The doctor will put drops in your eyes to dilate (enlarge) your pupils. A dilated eye exam is the only way to find certain types of eye disease.
Learn more about:
Am I at risk for a vision problem?
As you get older, your eyes change — which increases your chance of developing a vision problem. You may be at higher risk if one of your parents had a vision problem, like needing to wear glasses.
Common vision problems are:
- Nearsightedness – a condition that makes far away objects look blurry
- Farsightedness – a condition that makes nearby objects look blurry
- Astigmatism – a condition that makes things look blurry or distorted at all distances
- Presbyopia (“prez-bee-OH-pee-uh”) – a condition that older adults can get that makes it hard to see things up close
See an eye doctor right away if your vision suddenly changes.
Am I at risk for eye disease?
Getting older increases your risk for certain eye diseases. You may be at higher risk if you have diabetes or high blood pressure — or if your family has a history of diabetes or eye disease.
Eye diseases like glaucoma can lead to vision loss and blindness if they aren’t caught and treated early.
Depending on your age and medical history, the doctor may look for eye problems that are common in older adults, including:
What’s the difference between a vision screening and an eye exam?
A vision screening is a short checkup for your eyes. It usually takes place during a regular doctor visit. Vision screenings can only find certain eye problems.
An eye exam takes more time than a vision screening, and it’s the only way to find some types of eye disease.
There are 2 kinds of doctors that can perform eye exams:
Protect your vision. Get regular eye exams so you can find problems early, when they may be easier to treat.
Schedule an eye exam.
Ask your doctor or health center for the name of an eye care professional. Or use these tips for finding an eye doctor.
When you go for your exam, be sure to:
- Ask the doctor for a dilated eye exam.
- Tell the doctor if anyone in your family has eye problems or diabetes.
For more help, go through this checklist for your eye doctor appointment.
What about cost?
Check with your insurance plan about costs and co-payments.
Medicare covers eye exams for:
- People with diabetes
- People who are at high risk for glaucoma
- Some people who have age-related macular degeneration
If you don’t have insurance, look for free or low-cost eye care programs where you live.
Tell a doctor about problems.
See an eye doctor right away if you have any of these problems:
- Sudden loss of vision
- Flashes of light
- Tiny spots that float across your eye
- Eye pain
- Redness or swelling