When was the last time you had an eye exam? If you are like the majority of Americans, you might not even remember! Most people skip their eye exams unless they need new glasses or contacts, but regular exams help keep vision at its best. And they help detect problems and potential eye diseases before they become major issues. Don't dismiss symptoms that indicate issues with your vision - and even overall health.
So, what are some indicators that it’s time for your next visit? Here are 5 signs:
1. It’s been years since your last exam
Routine exams are the number one way to catch eye diseases or vision problems that don't have outward signs or symptoms. Adults and young adults are recommended to have an eye exam at least every two years. Older adults (65+) and higher risk patients (chronic disease, family history or previous eye surgeries or injuries) should visit their eye doctor annually.
Eye exams can also provide insights and information into your overall health. By looking into your eyes, your doctor can check your blood vessels for any irregularities. These could point to signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc.
2. You experience frequent headaches
Perhaps the only thing worse than experiencing a bad headache is experiencing them on a regular basis. Headaches, especially behind your eyes or brows, are a telltale sign that you’re having trouble seeing or focusing, even if you think everything looks fine. You may need an updated prescription, or a pair of glasses or contacts if you don’t already wear them, to solve the problem.
Digital eye strain, commonly caused by the blue light emitted by phones and computer screens, could also be to blame for your headaches. Ask your eye doctor about blue light lenses to help reduce your exposure.
3. You experience eye pain
Do not ignore this symptom. Sharp or throbbing pain that doesn’t go away is a sign that your eye is inflamed and that something isn’t right. A comprehensive eye exam allows your optometrist to figure out what the problem is and how to treat it. It could be an infection, dry eye, a sinus problem or something potentially more serious like sudden-onset glaucoma.
4. Your eyes are dry, red, itchy and swollen
Red, puffy eyes are a giveaway sign of pink eye. Your eyes might also burn or itch, feel sensitive to light or have discharge. These problems can be caused by viral or bacterial infections as well as allergens, but you’ll need an eye doctor to properly diagnose and recommend treatment or prescribe antibiotics when necessary.
5. You notice floaters, halos, spots or weird light flashes
Seeing little dark spots or squiggly strands once in a while isn’t usually a cause for alarm, especially if they appear after looking at something bright, but you should see your eye doctor immediately if you suddenly start seeing a lot of floaters or if they’re accompanied by flashes of light.
This especially applies if you begin having a hard time seeing out of the sides of your eyes. These could be signs of a retinal detachment, which occurs when the retina is lifted or pulled away from the back wall of the eye. It’s a serious problem that can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness in just a few days when left untreated.
If you’ve experienced any of the above, it’s time to schedule your next eye exam. Even if you don't relate to any of these symptoms, having regular eye exams are a powerful preventative measure as part of your overall healthcare that can save your vision for years to come. Contact us at one of our Gulf Coast Vision Center offices in Pace, Milton, Crestview, Pensacola Nine Mile or East Hill to schedule an exam.