Commentary by Tammy Wittmann
“I see great! Do I still need an eye exam?” Alex L., Carmel, IN
What a great question! The short answer is an overwhelming “YES!” There are many things we check in an eye examination and vision is just one.
The most important reason you need your comprehensive eye examination is because most eye diseases have no symptoms until it’s too late. Glaucoma, cataracts, ocular tumors, macular degeneration and many more cause no visual symptoms until they are in their advanced stages.
School screenings and primary care doctor screenings do not replace eye examinations either. Most of these diseases cannot be detected with a screening. Also, there are other visual issues that are not detected by reading a traditional eye chart. Eye alignment, tracking and focusing disorders are critical for learning and are not detected in screenings.
The recommended comprehensive eye examination schedule is as follows: at birth, between 6 and 12 months of age, then at 3 years old, 5 years old and every year after. Sometimes, depending on what is found in these examinations you may need to be seen more frequently. I have patients who are seen every six months or less, depending on the condition. And many have no visual symptoms with their condition.
I tell patients that we are really good at having our teeth cleaned every six months. We do this to keep our teeth healthy and to catch problems early for better treatment. I remind patients that it is a lot easier to treat eye disease and disorders when caught early. It’s also good to remember that we can eat with false teeth but we cannot see with a fake eye … right?