Senior Life: Eye Health
July is National Eye Exam month and thus now is a great time to think about scheduling your next exam. Dilated eye exams should be done regularly to identify diseases early on when they are easier to treat. Eye exams are easy and pain free. Eye drops are used to widen the pupil to allow your eye doctor to evaluate for various diseases. After your eyes are dilated, they may be more sensitive to light and vision may be blurry for up to a few hours. Because of this, you may need someone to drive you home from your appointment.
There are many diseases that can affect the eye that don’t have warning signs or symptoms. Because of this, dilated eye exams are important to diagnose any conditions you may have, before you know you have a problem.
The recommendation for how frequently eye exams should be completed varies depending on your risk. This should be discussed with your provider to determine the exact frequency. However, there are some patients who should get a dilated eye exam every one to two years. This includes:
- Those >60 years old
- Family history of glaucoma
- African American patients >40 years
Patients with diabetes or high blood pressure generally need to have a dilated eye exam done at least once per year, but your provider can discuss this further based on your need.
Depending on the results of your eye exam, you may receive a prescription for glasses or contacts. Some common diseases that may be diagnosed include:
- Diabetic retinopathy: Damage to blood vessels in the back of the eye
- Cataracts: Clouding of the eye
- Glaucoma: Damage to the optic nerve, often increases pressure in the eye(s)
- Age-related macular degeneration: Affects central vision over time
In addition to the recommended dilated eye exams, some other reasons it would be recommended to visit an eye doctor would be if you experience eye pain, double vision, floaters, eye redness or drainage, decreased vision, or are diagnosed with diabetes.
Even if no problems are identified, you should make your next eye exam, based on the recommendation of your provider. It is still important to go as frequently as they recommend to make sure any changes are caught early. If it has been a while since you have been in for an eye exam or it is your first time, consider scheduling this today, even if you aren’t having any noticeable vision changes.
Sometimes prescription medications are prescribed for various eye diseases/conditions. Talk with your Lewis Pharmacist today if you have questions on treatments for these conditions or any other eye conditions. They also can help answer questions regarding various over the counter eye drops and vitamins as well.
CDC- Division of Diabetes Translation, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Health Vision Month. https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/healthyvisionmonth/index.htm. Accessed May 30, 2022.
National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute. Get a Dilated Eye Exam. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/healthy-vision/get-dilated-eye-exam. Accessed May 30, 2022.