In general, most people should visit their eye doctor annually to check for any signs of eye conditions and ensure they do not need vision correction or changes to their current prescription. Although yearly visits are sufficient for most people, if you have certain conditions or are at a higher risk for eye problems, you may want to consider visiting your eye doctor more often.
There are many types of chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes that can quickly cause changes in eyesight, and make you more vulnerable to serious eye conditions. If you have hypertension or diabetes and have a difficult time controlling your condition, this is an additional reason to visit your eye doctor every six months.
Autoimmune diseases are another type of chronic disease that may warrant additional eye exams. Although many types of autoimmune diseases do not primarily affect the eyes, it is possible for your symptoms to escalate and eventually cause eye changes. It may be difficult to distinguish between the progression of an autoimmune disease and unrelated changes in vision. Visiting your eye doctor more often improves your chances of catching problems at an earlier stage when they are more likely to be treated or managed.
Some medications can have negative impacts on your vision, especially with long-term treatment. One such medication, hydroxychloroquine, is used as an anti-malarial and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic (DMARD). Hydroxychloroquine's potential for eye damage is less of a problem when used to treat malaria, because it is used for shorter periods of time.
Another example of medication that can be potentially harmful to your eyes is long-term use of corticosteroids. These medications are widely used for any number of conditions to help control inflammation throughout the body that can occur with an overactive immune system, asthma or a severe allergic response.
Although problems with your eyes as a result of long-term use of certain medications are rare, you should be vigilant about changes in your eyesight. If eye problems occur, your doctor will likely terminate treatment and find an alternative medication, when possible. Many medication-related changes in vision are reversible with discontinuation of the medicine.
Strong Family History
If you happen to have a strong family history of serious eye disease, visiting your eye doctor or places like http://www.checdocs.org twice per year is a way to be proactive and potentially diagnose eye disease early. For example, some types of degenerative retinal disease have a genetic component, and whether you will be directly affected is not necessarily known until later in life.
Eye disorders that have a genetic component are not always easy to determine. In some cases, eye disorders in your family may have an unknown origin or were misdiagnosed. If you have indicators that eye disorders are potentially genetic, such as many people in your family with the same or similar eye problems or a tendency for early decline in eyesight, talk with your eye doctor to determine if increasing your number of eye exams is a good strategy.
Rapidly Changing Vision
Some people who need vision correction simply need to visit their eye doctor more often because their prescription changes frequently. It is not uncommon for children who wear glasses to need their prescription changed more often, but their eyes often stabilize during adulthood. Even after reaching adulthood, some people continue to experience frequent changes in their vision correction needs, without having a serious eye condition.
If you find that you see clearly for a several months after a new vision correction prescription, but soon find that your vision becomes blurry again or reading becomes more difficult, you likely need your prescription changed more often. Just dealing with vision changes to avoid the extra costs associated with another eye exam and buying new glasses or contact lenses can lead to eye strain and headaches. Furthermore, you want to be assured that eye changes only require a slightly stronger prescription, and is not the sign of a serious condition.
The cost of an extra eye exam each year is a small investment when you consider the possibility diagnosing eye disorders early. Furthermore, certain changes in your eyes and vision may be the first sign that an underlying condition is becoming worse.