Annual eye exams are critical to your overall health.
Look in the mirror. You have one pair of eyes. They’re pretty special, aren’t they? Your teeth get cleaned. Your car gets an oil change. Your hair gets a trim. Maybe you even indulge in pedicures or other spa-like pampering. But how often do you think of your eyes unless something goes wrong? If you’re like most Canadians, not often enough.
Make no mistake: A simple thing that’s good for your eyes – a comprehensive exam, each and every year – is about a lot more than getting glasses or contacts. Many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms. As a result, individuals are often unaware that problems exist. Annual eye exams not only help correct vision problems; comprehensive eye exams can also reveal the warning signs of more serious undiagnosed health problems such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Even if you don’t need vision correction, you need that yearly exam.
Good vision is important for every member of your family.
Most people consider vision their most important sense, yet less than 50% of Canadians get eye exams more frequently than every two years. One in five people are at risk for vision loss, and preventive care could address many of the problems. No matter what their age, eye exams are vital to productivity and health for your entire family, from children to grandparents, and everyone in between.
Did you know that eye care experts say children should have their first eye exam before they can even walk? That’s right. Canadian Opometrist Association, recommends a 6-month exam to make sure the baby's eyes are developing normally and to stop bigger problems down the road. After that, a yearly trip to the eye doctor will keep tabs on young eyes that can change fast.
One in four children has problems that interfere with vision.
About 80% of what we learn is through our eyes, yet one study shows a whopping 85% of Canada’s pre-schoolers haven’t received a vision exam by age 5. Every year, thousands of children in schools suffer with poor self-concept unnecessarily. 60% of “problem learners” have undetected vision problems! And a pre-kindergarten exam is a must (don’t assume school-offered vision screenings are enough).
Studies also show that 60% of students identified as problem learners have undetected vision troubles. And according to the National Eye Institute, amblyopia, or lazy eye, is the most common cause of visual impairment in childhood. The good news is that annual eye exams can protect your child's vision, their overall health and their education.
Eye exams up to 16 years of age are paid annually by the provincial government.
Parents: Keep an Eye on Your Children
Very young children don't know what "normal" vision is, so watch for signs that there may be problems; these include watching TV at a very close distance and squinting their eyes or shutting one eye to see more clearly. The Canadian Optometric Association
encourages parents to include a trip to the optometrist in the list of well-baby check ups. Assessments at 6 to 12 months can determine healthy development of vision.
We all know that over time our bodies change – especially our vision. As we age, we’re more susceptible to cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Detecting these conditions early can help keep your eyes and body healthy. Your eye doctor can look for more than vision problems; they can look for signs of serious health conditions like diabetic eye disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A visit to your eye doctor won’t keep you from aging, but it can definitely help protect your eyes and your overall health.
From age 17 to 65, you should have an eye exam at least every 2 years. Adults 65 and over should have annual exams to review for cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye-health issues. Diabetics, hypertensive patients, contact lens wearers and those working on a computer more than 2 hours per day should receive an annual exam.
Eye Exams Are Simple and Painless
Eye exams are about a lot more than updating your eyewear prescription. During a preventive eye exam, your doctor will check all aspects of your vision, including the structure of the eyes and how well they work together. Based on the findings of the exam, your eye doctor will recommend a plan that’s right for you. The good news is that eye exams don’t hurt, and they typically take less than an hour to complete.
Vision Coverage Can Help You Save
Having vision coverage and getting yearly preventative eye exams can help you save. Vision insurance will mean less out of pocket expenses for exams and materials for you and your family. And if your eye doctor detects signs of health conditions before they become serious, you’ll be sure to save on ever-rising medical expenses.
Check with your employer to see if vision coverage is available to you.
Contact Lens Wearers
Never wear anyone else's lenses, and don’t wash yours in tap water or sleep with them in (unless your optometrist says you can). For disposable contact lens wearers, change your lenses regularly.
Buy Good Quality, UV-Protected Sunglasses
Sunlight can damage the retina and the lens of the eye, and we risk causing long-term damage to our eyesight. Good sunglasses don't need to be expensive, but often the ones being sold at the street vendors/mall kiosk don't have necessary UV protection.