The Basics: Overview
Have your eyes tested (examined) 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 year if you:
- Are over age 60
- Are African American and over age 40
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Have diabetes
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.
The Basics: Eye Exams
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 some types of eye disease.
Learn more about:
The Basics: Vision Problems
Am I at risk for a vision problem?
As you get older, your eyes change. This 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 – when far away objects are blurry
- Farsightedness – when far away objects are easier to see than near ones
- Astigmatism – a condition that makes it hard to see fine details
- Presbyopia (“prez-bee-OH-bee-uh”) – a condition that older adults can get that makes it hard to see things up close
Read more about common vision problems. See an eye doctor right away if your vision or eyes suddenly change.
The Basics: Eye Diseases
Am I at risk for eye disease?
Getting older increases your risk of certain eye diseases. You may be at higher risk if you have diabetes or high blood pressure – or if you have a family member with diabetes or an 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:
The Basics: Vision Screenings
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.
These 2 kinds of doctors can perform eye exams: