How Often Should You Have an Eye Exam?

20/20 vision is only one aspect of eye health. Here's why and how often you need to have an eye exam

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We asked Dr. Jeff Goodhew, president of the Ontario Association of Optometrists, for the latest advice on protecting your eyes. Plus, he tells us how often to have an eye exam.

Your Eye Exam Cheat Sheet

Children: First eye examination should be between six and 12 months of age, again before starting school and then every year once school begins.
Adults: A least once every two years. Yearly exams for those who wear contact lenses or are at risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol or thyroid disease.
65 plus: Annual eye exams recommended due to age-related eye conditions, such as cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

What should I look for when buying sunglasses with UV protection?
You can’t tell how much UV protection sunglasses have by their price or colour or by the darkness of their lenses. Look for a label that lists UV 400. A large, wraparound style also provides more coverage.

We all spend so much time in front of computers, tablets and smartphones. What’s your advice for limiting screen time?
We recommend following the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This helps reset the focus of the eye and reduce eye strain.

Is there a “bad habit” your patients have that you wish they would stop?
I would like to see more patients getting regular eye examinations. Most people assume that their eyes must be perfect if they can see well, but 20/20 vision is only one aspect of an exam. Your eyes are also windows to your overall health (Click here to read our article: What Your Eyes Reveal About Your Health), and an eye exam can reveal a number of issues, from Type 2 diabetes to eye cancer to high blood pressure.

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