Whether you wear glasses or have never experienced vision correction, you likely do not think about the quality of your eyesight on a daily basis. However, most individuals experience some eyesight changes over time, even if these changes are gradual enough to be overlooked.
Eyesight testing identifies and helps track changes in your vision. Having regular eye exams is a crucial part of early diagnosis of eye conditions, appropriate vision correction, and safety when you drive or operate machinery.
But when do you need your eyesight tested? Schedule an appointment with a professional eye doctor when you have any of the following eight experiences.
1. CHANGES IN NIGHT VISION
When you drive at night, can you clearly see other cars on the road and read relevant road signs? For many adults, the first sign of a vision change is increased difficulty when driving at night.
If you see halos around lights, cannot read signs, or have trouble distinguishing objects like telephone poles at night, talk to an optometrist.
2. DIAGNOSIS OF A HEALTH CONDITION AFFECTING THE EYES
Your overall health, from your nutrition to your sleep habits, can affect the way your eyes feel and function. If you were recently diagnosed with diabetes, lupus, a thyroid condition, or any other condition that could affect your eyes, you will need to take particular care of your eye health.
Start by discussing your diagnosis with an eye doctor and undergoing a vision test.
3. EYE INFECTION OR DISCHARGE
Eye exams don’t just identify changes in vision—they also give your optometrist an opportunity to evaluate the health of your eyes and eyelids.
While some eye infections clear up on their own, many are contagious and come with the risk of permanent damage. If you experience itchiness, redness, or discharge, see an eye doctor.
4. FREQUENT HEADACHES OR MIGRAINES
Headaches can result from muscle tension, stress, and inflammation, but they can also serve as warning signs that your vision is changing. If you notice an increase in your headache frequency or intensity, visit an eye doctor.
If you suffer from migraines, you may see auras, spots, or other vision obstructions before, during, or after an episode. Often, these vision obstructions are harmless, but in some cases, these symptoms can indicate a serious underlying condition that’s contributing to the migraines and may be affecting eye health.
5. PERSISTENT VISION DISRUPTIONS
Vision disruptions can also occur without an accompanying migraine. In addition to auras and black spots, you may notice small “floaters” that seem to move across your eyes or flashes of light.
If these obstructions appear suddenly, seek immediate attention from an eye doctor. These disruptions can result from a serious issue such as retinal detachment or retinal holes.
6. RECURRENT EYE FATIGUE
Eye fatigue or strain can occur for a number of reasons, including spending a lot of time in front of a computer screen or reading. However, if your discomfort persists for three or more days, the eye strain may hint at an eye infection or condition.
Additionally, if you notice your eyes hurt during specific movements, like when you look from left to right, schedule an eye exam.
7. SENSITIVITY TO LIGHT
A strong sensitivity to light, especially a sensitivity that appears suddenly, can be a symptom of an eye infection, corneal abrasion, or even a central nervous system disorder like meningitis. Have this sensitivity assessed by an eye doctor to determine the likely cause.
8. SUDDEN DIFFICULTY FOCUSING
Many eye conditions first manifest as difficulty focusing on a specific object in your field of vision or blurriness when you focus on a single object. Some individuals experience inconsistent focus issues. For example, you may only have trouble focusing in certain levels of light or the problem may move from one eye to the other. Difficulty focusing can also be linked to specific tasks such as reading small print or looking at an electronic device screen.
Even if you only have trouble focusing occasionally, you should consult with an eye health professional to rule out any serious eye conditions and identify any changes in vision quality.
Even if you do not experience one of these symptoms, you should prioritize having your vision tested at least once every two years or at a frequency recommended by your optometrist. You may need more frequent testing if you have a family history of diabetes, glaucoma, or other relevant conditions.
Don’t put off routine eyesight testing. Understanding the quality of your vision is an important step in finding vision correction that works for you and protecting your sight from potential damage in the future.