Visiting your eye doctor, or ophthalmologist, and undergoing regular eye exams is the key to ensuring your eyes receive the care that they need. However, it’s also important for patients to know exactly how often they must visit their doctor for these routine examinations.
A variety of factors can contribute to eye health and need to be considered and monitored by your doctors during exams. These factors include but are not limited to age, pre-existing health conditions, genetics, and the use of certain medications. Depending on which factors you are or are not facing as a patient, you may need to visit an ophthalmologist more often than another patient would.
Recommended Eye Examination Timeline For Risk Free Patients
This chart covers a basic recommended eye care and exam schedule for the average patient, based on the patient’s age. We advise that you use this as a general guideline for making appointments, but that you always follow your doctor’s advice first when determining when to schedule your next regular exam.
Eye Exam Recommendations (For The Average, Risk-Free Patient)
0 - 24 Months Old
Children within this age group should visit an ophthalmologist when they turn 6 months old.
2 - 5 Years Old
Children within this age group should visit an ophthalmologist when they turn 3 years old.
6 - 18 Years Old
Children within this age group should visit an ophthalmologist before they begin 1st grade; after that, their visits to their eye doctor should take place every two years.
18 - 60 Years Old
Adults should visit an ophthalmologist every two years. They’re also encouraged to undergo a baseline eye disease screening at the age of 40.
61 Years Old (And Older)
Senior citizens should visit an ophthalmologist annually.
*While this chart covers the expectations for a “risk-free” patient’s eye care, patients who are considered “at risk” of developing eye problems are typically advised to undergo eye exams more frequently than what’s listed.
Defining An “At Risk” Patient
There are a number of reasons your doctor may determine you as an “at-risk patient” who requires more eye testing and evaluations than the average patient.
Infants, toddlers and young children are often considered at risk of developing a visual impairment if they:
- Are born prematurely or suffer from other premature birth-related symptoms, such as a low birth weight or low oxygen levels
- Have a family history of certain eye conditions or genetic diseases
- Could have been exposed to certain infections or diseases while in-womb
- Were delivered through a difficult or assisted labor
- Have or had crossed or turned eyes at or since their birth
- Are suffering from a central nervous system issue
- Have already been diagnosed with an oddly shaped eye, retinal damage, or other problems within the eye or with properly seeing objects
Adults, on the other hand, are more often considered to be at risk if they:
- Suffer from diabetes or hypertension
- Have a history of eye diseases
- Work in visually demanding workplaces, as well as in workplaces that are potentially hazardous to our eyes
- Take certain medications with side effects that affect the eye
- Wear contact lenses or undergo eye surgery
Your Needs As A Patient
Ultimately, you as a patient are likely to have personalized eye health needs that need attending to; if this is the case, these basic eye care guidelines may not be the right fit for you. If you are at all unsure about how often you should be seeing your ophthalmologist, we recommend scheduling an appointment to determine how frequently your eyes should be examined based on your family and medical history, as well as your individual needs as a patient.