When to See an Eye Doctor
We all know that getting regular eye exams is important. Adults should undergo an eye exam at least once every two years, though your optometrist may recommend you come visit more often.
There may be other reasons you need to visit us outside of your regularly scheduled eye exam. This can include sudden eye pain, eye infection, double vision, and more.
If you get anything in your eyes such as grit, dirt, chemicals, or a large object you should seek immediate medical attention. For chemicals or small bits of debris, you should flush your eyes out with cool, clear water for at least fifteen minutes. Hopefully, this will remove the chemicals or debris from your eye before they can cause further damage.
If an object is lodged in your eye try and wash it away by flushing your eyes with clean, cool water. If you cannot remove the object this way do not attempt to remove it using your fingers or tweezers.
Do not rub your eyes. This can cause whatever is in your eye to move around, causing further damage. If something is stuck in your eye call your eye doctor for an emergency appointment or proceed to the nearest emergency room.
Infrequent and mild eye pain is typically no reason to panic, but if you experience pain in your eyes that is either intense or ongoing you should make an appointment with your eye doctor. Pain can sometimes indicate that your eye is infected, or be a warning sign for a more serious health problem.
Most of us spend a lot of time staring at screens, which can cause eye fatigue. Seasonal allergies and even the flu can cause our eyes to feel tired, but it may also indicate a more serious problem. If you are following the 20/20/20 rule and still find that your eyes are often tired you should book an appointment with your eye doctor.
If your eyelids are swollen, itchy, or red, or the whites of your eyes are discoloured pink you may have an eye infection. Infected eyes may also have discharge, but even if they don’t that doesn’t mean they aren’t infected. If you suspect you may have an eye infection you should book an exam right away.
Blurry Vision or Problems Focusing
Suddenly blurry vision or problems focusing may be signs of a larger health issue. If this occurs you should book an emergency appointment with your eye doctor right away. If your blurry vision comes and goes, or is limited to one eye, you should schedule a regular exam with your eye doctor as soon as possible.
If your vision has been getting slowly blurrier over time there is probably no need to panic. It probably means that your eyes are changing, and may indicate that your prescription has changed. You should book an appointment with your optometrist as soon as possible.
Light sensitivity may indicate a more serious problem and is a common symptom of a number of eye disorders, diseases, and infections. You should book an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Dry or Itchy Eyes
Seasonal allergies can make our eyes dry and itchy, as can prolonged screen use. However, it may also indicate that you have dry eye. Dry eye is a chronic condition that can be managed using a variety of non-invasive in-office and at-home treatments. Book an appointment with your eye doctor to see if you are experiencing dry eye.
Flashes, Floaters, & Spots
Flashes, floaters, and spots are typically no cause for concern. They are caused by bits of protein and other tissue that are embedded in the clear, gel-like material (called vitreous) which fills the inside of our eye. As we age the vitreous becomes more fluid, making the bits of protein and other tissue more noticeable.
However, some floaters (especially those accompanied by flashes of light) may indicate a very serious condition, such as a detached retina. A few spots or floaters here and there is no cause for alarm, but if you experience a cloud of floaters, flashes of light, or swirly mists or a curtain over part of your eye you should seek help immediately. Make an emergency appointment with your eye doctor or proceed to the nearest emergency room. Most retinal detachments can be repaired if they are treated soon, but if they are not treated in time you may experience a loss of vision or even blindness.
Double vision, also called diplopia, can occur in either one eye (monocular) or both eyes. Monocular double vision may be caused by astigmatism, dry eye, or keratoconus. Abnormalities in the cornea, lens, retina, nerves, or brain can also cause double vision, so it is important to make an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Double vision that is caused by your eyes being unable to coordinate properly is called binocular double vision. Individuals with binocular double vision can see perfectly well with each individual eye. Binocular double vision typically occurs when our eyes are pointed at slightly different angles, causing them to send different images to our brains.
The best way to determine the cause of your double vision is to book an appointment with your eye doctor.
If you are seeing halos around lights, particularly during the middle of the day, it may indicate that you have astigmatism or presbyopia. However, it may also indicate that something much more serious is going on, so you should make an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Trouble Seeing at Night
Night blindness, when individuals can see perfectly well under adequate lighting but struggle in low lighting conditions, is a natural part of the ageing process. However, problems with nighttime vision may also indicate that you are beginning to develop cataracts. Cataracts can only be cured using surgery, but your eye doctor can recommend steps you can take to slow the progression of cataracts. For more information, and to get your eyes checked, make an appointment with your eye doctor.
Problems with Near or Distant Vision
If you are finding yourself squinting to read road signs or have to hold your book at arm’s length to make out the tiny print, you should make an appointment with your eye doctor. Changes to your near or far vision typically indicate that your prescription has changed. Even if the changes are only minor you should still make an appointment with your eye doctor to avoid causing unnecessary eye strain.
Frequent headaches are usually rooted in vision problems. Vision changes are typically slow, so you may not notice them over time. However, frequent headaches may indicate that your vision has changed and that your eyes are strained as a result. Make an appointment with your eye doctor. They will be able to help you determine the source of your headaches and update your prescription if necessary.
Diabetes affects our bodies in many ways and can cause damage to our eyes if not managed properly. When there is too much sugar in our blood it can cause damage to the delicate blood vessels in our retinas, causing diabetic retinopathy. All individuals with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) are at an increased risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Serious damage to your eyes may occur before you begin to experience vision loss, so regular eye exams are key to early detection.
Diabetic eyes require extra care, so your eye doctor will likely recommend that you undergo a diabetic eye exam at least once per year. If it has been more than a year since your last diabetic eye exam you should book your next appointment as soon as possible.
If It’s Been a While
Just like you take your car for regular tune-ups your eyes also benefit from regular eye exams. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists adults with healthy eyes between the ages of 20 and 39 should see their eye doctor every 2 to 3 years. Adults between the ages of 40 and 64 should make an appointment once every 2 years, and adults over the age of 64 should see their eye doctor annually.
Children should undergo their first eye exam between the ages of 6 and 9 months, and have their second eye exam between the ages of 2 and 5 years old. School-aged children (6 to 19 years old) should see their eye doctor at least once per year.