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Do I Really Need a Yearly Eye Exam?

Ophthalmologists recommend that every adult receive an annual eye exam, but studies consistently show that few adults follow through on that advice. There are a number of reasons people may skip their annual eye exams, from a lack of medical insurance to a belief that there’s nothing wrong with their eyes. But that yearly eye exam is critical to catching vision issues early and helping to correct them before they become insurmountable.

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Updating Prescription Lenses

Approximately 64% of people report having an issue with their vision, from blurred vision to trouble seeing at night. One reason for this is that your eyesight naturally deteriorates over time, a condition known as presbyopia. By going in for a yearly eye exam, your ophthalmologist can track how your eyes are changing and adjust your prescription accordingly. This can improve your quality of life by reducing symptoms of eye strain, including headaches and blurred vision.

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The Importance of the “Puff Test”

The dreaded “puff test” occurs when your ophthalmologist uses a machine called a tonometer to blow a puff of air into your eye. Although many people find this test annoying, it’s a quick and painless way to check if you’re at risk for glaucoma. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, and once it progresses to the point of damaging your vision, that vision loss can’t be repaired.

However, if your ophthalmologist uses the puff test and realizes that you’re at risk for glaucoma, they can slow down the progression of the disease or even prevent it entirely. This is one of the big reasons to go to your yearly eye exam. The quick puff test could literally be the difference between going blind and saving your vision.

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Other Important Conditions Being Examined

In addition to checking your vision and looking for signs of glaucoma, your ophthalmologist is also looking for signs of other impairments to your eyesight. This can include signs of degenerative conditions like cataracts or macular degeneration, which progress over time. Though you would eventually notice these conditions on your own, your ophthalmologist would be able to catch these far earlier and begin treatment plans to help you keep maximum vision for as long as possible.

Your ophthalmologist will also look at the shape of your eyes and examine how well your eyes are working together. Sometimes, each eye can see well individually but the muscles aren’t trained to work together, which can lead to eye strain and problems with depth perception. Your eye doctor can catch this and prescribe treatments to retrain your eyes to work in conjunction with each other.

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What to Do Between Eye Exams

If you’re between eye exams and you notice that your vision is beginning to get strained, you can try our online vision test to help you determine whether adjusting the magnification of your readers might help. However, our online vision test is not a replacement for your yearly exam. An annual vision exam is critical for catching degenerative eye conditions and preventing long term conditions from worsening over time.