OCT eye exam

Regular eye exams are essential for maintaining good eye health and detecting potential issues early on. But how often should you have an eye exam? The frequency depends on various factors, such as age, existing medical conditions, and visual needs. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the importance of eye exams, recommended schedules for different age groups, what to expect during an eye exam, and how to keep your eyes and vision healthy. Let’s dive in!

Why Are Regular Eye Exams Important?

Eye exams are not just about updating your prescription or checking your visual acuity. They play a crucial role in assessing your overall eye health and detecting potential eye conditions and other health issues. Many eye diseases and conditions can develop silently without noticeable symptoms, making regular eye exams vital for early detection and treatment.

Eye exams can help detect various issues, including:

  • Eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachments, and macular degeneration.
  • Health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and brain tumors.
  • Vision problems like nearsightedness and astigmatism.

Early detection of these conditions can prevent vision loss and allow for timely intervention, ensuring better outcomes for your eye health.

Recommended Eye Exam Schedule for Adults

The frequency of eye exams for adults depends on several factors, including age, vision needs, and existing medical conditions. Here is a general guideline for how often you should have an eye exam as an adult:

Regular Eye Exams

For adults between the ages of 20 and 64, a comprehensive eye exam every 1 to 2 years is recommended. Once you reach the age of 65 or older, exams every 12-18 months are advised.

However, it’s important to note that these are general recommendations, and your optometrist may suggest more frequent exams based on individual factors such as:

  • Wearing glasses or contact lenses.
  • Family history of eye diseases.
  • Existing health issues like diabetes.
  • High-risk occupations or hobbies that can affect eye health.

It’s crucial to follow your optometrist’s recommendations for the best possible eye care.

Eye Exams When Experiencing Symptoms

If you experience any changes or symptoms related to your vision, it’s important to schedule an eye exam as soon as possible. Some common symptoms that warrant an immediate eye exam include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Eye pain or discomfort.
  • Double vision.
  • Dry or itchy eyes.
  • Flashes of light or floaters in your vision.
  • Changes in peripheral vision.

Prompt attention to these symptoms can help identify and address any underlying issues affecting your vision.

Eye Exams for Children

Just like adults, children also require regular eye exams to ensure optimal eye health and development. Early detection of vision problems in children is crucial for their learning and overall well-being. Here is a recommended eye exam schedule for children:

Infants and Toddlers

Infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. This early examination helps detect any eye issues that may affect their visual development. Another eye exam is recommended every year after that to identify potential vision problems before they impact learning and development.

School-Age Children

School-age children should have annual comprehensive eye exams until the age of 19. Regular exams during these formative years help identify and address any visual issues that may affect their academic performance and overall quality of life.

Eye Exams for Specific Conditions

Certain medical conditions require more frequent eye exams to monitor and manage potential eye-related complications. Here are a few examples:

Diabetic Eye Exams

Individuals with diabetes should have an annual diabetic eye exam. Diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to conditions like diabetic retinopathy. Regular eye exams help detect and manage these complications, minimizing the risk of vision loss.

Contact Lens Exams and Fittings

If you wear contact lenses, it’s essential to have regular contact lens exams and fittings. These exams ensure that your lenses fit properly and are providing optimal vision and comfort. Your optometrist will assess your eye health, measure your eyes, and recommend the best contact lenses for your needs.

What Happens During an Eye Exam?

During an eye exam, your optometrist will perform various tests to assess your visual acuity, eye health, and overall vision. Here are some common tests you can expect during an eye exam:

Visual Acuity Test

This test measures your ability to see clearly at various distances. You will be asked to read letters or numbers from an eye chart to determine your visual acuity.

Refraction Test

The refraction test helps determine your prescription for glasses or contact lenses. Your optometrist will use a phoropter, a device you look through while different lenses are placed in front of your eyes. You will be asked to provide feedback on which lenses provide the clearest vision.

Slit Lamp Examination

A slit lamp examination allows your optometrist to examine the front structures of your eyes, including the cornea, iris, and lens. This examination helps detect any abnormalities or signs of eye diseases.

Intraocular Pressure Measurement

Measuring your intraocular pressure is crucial for detecting glaucoma, a condition that can cause irreversible vision loss if left untreated. Your optometrist may use a contact tonometry or non-contact tonometry to measure the pressure inside your eyes.

Dilated Fundus Examination

During a dilated fundus examination, your optometrist will use eye drops to dilate your pupils, allowing for a more detailed examination of the back of your eyes. This examination helps assess the health of your retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels.

These are just a few examples of the tests and procedures that may be conducted during an eye exam. Your optometrist will tailor the examination based on your specific needs and concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you go to the eye doctor if you wear glasses?

If you wear glasses, it is generally recommended to visit your eye doctor at least every one to two years for a comprehensive eye exam. Regular check-ups help ensure that your prescription is up to date and that your eyes are healthy. However, depending on your individual circumstances, your eye doctor may suggest more frequent visits, especially if you have certain eye conditions or if your prescription changes frequently.

How long is an eye prescription good for?

The duration of an eye prescription can vary depending on various factors, such as your age, overall eye health, and the recommendations of your eye doctor. In most cases, an eye prescription is valid for one to two years. However, keep in mind that this can vary, and it’s always best to consult with your eye doctor to determine the specific duration of your prescription.

Can I use my eye prescription from 2 years ago?

Using an eye prescription from two years ago may not provide you with the most accurate vision correction. Over time, your eyesight can change, and wearing outdated glasses may lead to discomfort and strain. It is generally recommended to consult with your eye doctor and get a new prescription to ensure that your glasses provide you with the best vision correction possible.

Do I need a new eye prescription every year?

While it is generally recommended to get a comprehensive eye exam and a new eye prescription every year, the frequency may vary depending on individual circumstances. Some people may require more frequent prescription updates due to rapid changes in their eyesight or specific eye conditions. Your eye doctor will assess your needs and provide guidance on how often you should get a new prescription.

Will my vision get worse if I don’t wear my glasses all the time?

Not wearing your glasses all the time may not directly cause your vision to get worse. However, it can lead to eye strain, discomfort, and difficulty focusing on objects. Additionally, if you have a refractive error, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, not wearing corrective glasses may result in temporary blurriness or headaches. To ensure optimal vision and comfort, it is generally recommended to wear your glasses as prescribed by your eye doctor.


Regular eye exams play a crucial role in maintaining good eye health and detecting potential issues early on. The recommended frequency of eye exams varies depending on age, existing medical conditions, and visual needs. By following the suggested guidelines and scheduling regular exams, you can ensure optimal eye health and preserve your vision for years to come. Remember, early detection is key to preventing vision loss and addressing any eye-related complications. Take care of your eyes and prioritize your eye health by scheduling regular eye exams with a trusted optometrist.

If you’re in Ottawa and in need of a comprehensive eye exam, contact Rideau Optometric today to book your appointment with our experienced and knowledgeable optometrists. Your vision health is our top priority, and we’re here to provide you with the best eye care possible.