The value of having a regular eye checkup
Have your vision checked every
two years, then annually once you're over 60
BY MEGAN MARTIN, FOR POSTMEDIA NEWS AUGUST 10, 2011 COMMENTS (2)
If you wear glasses or have a diagnosed condition in one or both of your eyes, getting routine checkups by your eye-care professional is common practice. But optometrists are encouraging everyone to get their eyes examined at least once every two years, depending on age, even if you think your vision is in top shape.
"People tend to think visual exams are only necessary when they’re having problems, but studies have shown that one in seven people have a serious eye problem such as cataracts or glaucoma that they don’t even know about," said Steven Carrier, president of the Quebec Association of Optometrists.
According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, one person starts to lose their vision every 12 minutes in Canada.
"That means that every 12 minutes one person will have the onset of a vision problem that could lead to blindness," Carrier said. "That statistic alone is a great reason for people to go get their eyes checked."
The four most common eye diseases and conditions that can lead to blindness are glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
"People need to know that it’s possible to treat all of these problems and maintain vision," Carrier said. "But when people don’t know they have a problem and don’t get checked regularly, they can’t seek treatment in a timely fashion, which can lead to vision loss."
Because vision problems don’t discriminate by age, children should have their first complete eye exam at 3-years-old and once each year until they are 18.
"But if parents notice any problems when their children are younger than 3 they shouldn’t wait to have an evaluation," Carrier said. "Signs of vision trouble in children of all ages tend to be headaches, concentration problems, light sensitivity and difficulty learning to read or write."
Three-years old is the ideal time to start having your child’s vision evaluated because certain problems, such as having a lazy eye, can be corrected at that age but not necessarily later on in life.
During adulthood, ages 18 to 60, it’s recommended to have your vision checked every two years and then annually once you’re over 60 years old.
"It also depends on the individual. If you notice that you’re having problems you should get checked right away," Carrier said.
Vision assessments are conducted by optometrists and a complete exam takes about 30 minutes.
"First we check your vision to determine how clearly you see, we test the visual field and determine if you have one of the four main problems that commonly cause people to need glasses: myopia, astigmatism, presbyopia and hyperopia," Carrier said. "Then we check the health of the eyes as well, looking at the corneas, lenses and retinas for damage or signs of disease."
The optometrist can then develop a follow up plan with each individual based on their needs.
There are only two schools of optometry in Canada, one in Waterloo and one in Montreal.
"Because we have a school here we have roughly 1,300 out of the 4,000 optometrists in Canada practicing in Quebec," Carrier said. "We’re able to track it because membership in the Quebec Association of Optometrists is mandatory to practice here."
Establishing an optometry practice requires a large investment.
"It’s expensive because of the special machines we use to check vision and the health of different parts of the eye," Carrier said. "It costs around $250,000 for all the machinery necessary to open an office."
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