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Are Annual Eye Exams Really Necessary?

Most of us get our car serviced annually to make sure it runs smoothly. We also visit a dentist regularly to get our teeth cleaned. But how many of us get our eyes checked each year?

Many people wait until they notice a change in their vision to see a doctor. But eye problems are often silent - meaning they have no symptoms, and this can be dangerous to the person who is waiting to see a change.

A recent study found that one in four adults hadn't had an eye exam in the past two years, and the same proportion was unaware that an eye exam could prevent them from losing their sight. Even if you've had laser vision surgery or have naturally good vision, you still need an annual eye exam.

Maybe you've heard of or received a vision screening. It's not the same as a complete exam. Says Dr. Kurt DeVito, O.D., from Norfolk Virginia: "Screenings are partial, limited eye evaluations that take place outside an eye doctor's office. There's no doubt that they can be helpful at times in detecting some problems with vision, but I encourage patients to have a thorough eye exam in an optometrist's or ophthalmologist's office. The doctor can take an entire eye care history and patients can take advantage of the doctor’s diagnostic and treatment tools."

During your exam, your eye doctor will look for eye muscle imbalance, vision disorders, and eye disease that could potentially cause future problems.

Don't wait until a street sign looks blurry, or you have trouble seeing objects close up. In addition to detecting vision changes, regular eye exams can also detect life-threatening conditions like a brain tumor and high cholesterol. Find out what a routine eye exam can say about your overall health.