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Get Your Vision Checked

smiling woman with glasses

The Basics

If you are age 65 or older, have your eyes checked every 1 to 2 years. People with diabetes need to have their eyes checked more often.

Regular eye exams help your doctor find eye problems early, when they can be easily treated. These 2 types of doctors can perform eye exams:

  • Optometrist
  • Ophthalmologist

What happens during an eye exam?

  • The doctor will put drops in your eyes to enlarge (or dilate) your pupils. A dilated eye exam is the only way to find some types of eye disease.
  • You will read charts with letters and numbers to check your vision.
  • The doctor will do tests to look for problems with your eyes, including glaucoma. Learn more about the test for glaucoma. External Links Disclaimer Logo

What will the doctor look for during an exam?
Your vision changes as you get older. Some changes are more serious than others. Over time, eye diseases like glaucoma can lead to vision loss and blindness.

The doctor will look for eye problems that are common in older adults, including:

Learn about the different parts of your eye.

Am I at risk for eye disease?
You may be at high risk for eye disease if you:

  • Are age 65 or older
  • Are African-American and over age 40
  • Have diabetes
  • Have a family member with diabetes or eye disease

See an eye doctor right away if your vision or eyes suddenly change.

Take Action!

Protect your vision. Get regular eye exams so you can find problems early, when they may be easier to treat.

Schedule an eye exam.
Ask your doctor or health center for the name of an eye care professional. Read these tips for finding an eye doctor.

When you go for your exam, be sure to:

  • Ask the doctor for a dilated eye exam.
  • Tell the doctor if anyone in your family has eye problems or diabetes.

For more help, go through this checklist for your eye doctor appointment. External Links Disclaimer Logo

What about cost?
Check with your insurance plan about costs and co-payments. If you have Medicare, it will pay for your eye exam if you have diabetes or if you are at risk for glaucoma.

If you don’t have insurance, there may be free or low-cost eye care programs where you live.

Watch for problems.
See an eye doctor right away if you have any of these problems:

  • Sudden loss of vision
  • Flashes of light
  • Tiny spots that float across your eye
  • Eye pain
  • Redness or swelling

Check out the signs and symptoms of eye problems. External Links Disclaimer Logo

Get regular physical exams.
Get regular exams to help you stay healthy. Ask your doctor or nurse how you can prevent type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. These diseases can cause eye problems if they aren’t treated.

Lower your risk of falling.
Poor vision or the wrong glasses can increase your risk of falling. Falling can cause serious injuries and health problems, especially for people over age 64.

Learn about getting your blood pressure checked.

Start Today: Small Steps

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Content last updated on: September 27, 2012

National Health Information Center

P.O. Box 1133, Washington, DC 20013-1133