5 Signs You Might Need an Eye Exam

Regular exams keep your vision strong, but they also detect eye diseases early — many of which go unnoticed for a long time.

During an eye exam, an optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye doctor) will check your:

+ Visual acuity: how clearly you can see

+ Eye alignment: where each eye is looking when you focus on one spot

+ Eye movement: how your muscles move your eyes around

They'll also look inside your eyes to check for signs of eye disease, such as cataracts and glaucoma, or other health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

Whether your eye exam serves to help you see more clearly or to monitor your risk for eye diseases, it's difficult to argue the benefit of getting your eyes checked.Depending on your age, health history and even gender, recommendations for how often you should see your doctor may differ.

Here are five signs you might need an eye exam:

1. You Can't Remember When You Had Your Last Eye Exam

If you don't know the last time you had a thorough eye exam, it's probably been a while. Many eye diseases have no symptoms at first, and they may go unnoticed and continue to worsen over time.

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for treating common eye disease, such as:

Cataracts: the clouding of the lenses in your eyes, which can lead to vision loss

Diabetic nephropathy: damage to blood vessels in the back of your eyes, which can cause blindness

Glaucoma: disease that damages your optic nerves

Age-related macular degeneration: gradual loss of tissues in your eye that use light to see

2. You Have A High Risk for Eye Diseases

Just like with any other aspect of your health, there are certain things that can increase your risk of developing eye diseases — some of which are out of your control. You should ask about having your eyes checked every year if you:

+ Have a personal or family history of eye disease, including cataracts, diabetic nephropathy, glaucoma or oracular degeneration

+ Have diabetes, which can lead to diabetic nephropathy, glaucoma or cataracts

+ Have a job that's visually demanding, such as using the computer all day

Wear contact lenses

+ Have had eye surgery or an eye injury in the past

+ Have eyesight that continues to worsen over time

3. Your Vision is Getting Worse

Vision problems can make it difficult to go about your daily routine — but eye strain can also cause headaches. This happens when your eyes aren't focusing as they should, causing them to work harder than normal. Usually, a headache caused by eye strain will occur after you use your eyes for an extended period of time, such as reading, working on the computer or even sewing.

4. You Have Allergies

If your eyes are red and irritated — but you don't see anything in them — you might have allergies. You may not even get the tell-tale signs of sneezing, sniffing or stuffy nose, but you may have eye allergies if you are experiencing:

+ Itchiness

+ Redness

+ Burning

+ Clear, watery discharge

Eye allergies can be caused by:

+ Outdoor allergens, such as grass, trees and weeds

+ Indoor allergens, such as pet dander, mold and dust mites

+ Irritants, such as smoke or perfume

Depending on the severity, your eye doctor might recommend you use over-the-counter or prescription eye drops and medications. They may also refer you to an allergist, a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies.

5. Eye strain or fatigue

Does 20 minutes of reading wear your eyes out like 1 hour did only a year ago? Eye fatigue results from blurry vision or when you regularly squint or blink to bring items into focus, but it also can occur from driving, writing or mobile phone addiction. Try taking regular breaks or change the lighting to reduce glare—and Pearl Vision also recommends drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day to help avoid eye fatigue and strain .

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