According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2020 is the “Year of the Eye.” Makes sense of course as 20/20 vision is what we all strive for. To stay with the theme of the number 20, there is a little exercise to keep in mind when you’re spending time in front of a screen, tablet, book, etc. This exercise can help you ensure healthy eyes. The rule is every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to stop and focus your eyes 20 feet away.
It is important to get your eyes checked as recommended. According to the Mayo Clinic, children should have their eyes checked before they enter first grade. If no vision problems are detected, then follow-up every few years, or sooner if changes or symptoms of eye conditions occur.
In general, if you are a healthy adult, and you have no symptoms of vision problems, this is the recommended schedule for eye exams: every five to 10 years in your 20s and 30s, every two to four years from 40 to 54, every one to three years from 55 to 64, and every one to two years after 65 years old.
Eye exams should occur more frequently if you wear glasses or contacts, have a family history of eye disease or loss of vision, have a chronic disease that puts you at greater risk of eye disease (such as diabetes), take medications that have serious eye side effects, or experience any significant changes in your eyes.
Symptoms to watch out for that might suggest the need for an eye exam include: dizziness, blurred/double vision, nausea, headaches, squinting, and rubbing of the eyes. When considering eye care, there are a few options on what type of provider you can see. Locally, at Mille Lacs Health System, you have the option of either an optometrist, or ophthalmologist. These professionals work closely together to diagnose and treat different conditions before they lead to vision loss.
Think of an optometrist as the primary care physician for your eyes. Optometrists determine your corrective lens prescription, can prescribe medications, and perform minor eye surgery such as extracting a foreign object.
An ophthalmologist is an eye surgeon. They perform minor and major surgical services to correct cataracts, glaucoma, and other degenerative eye conditions. An ophthalmologist can also prescribe medication, perform routine exams, and provide post-surgery care.