Generally speaking, you should get your eyes checked every one to two years—the frequency depends on your circumstances. There are several factors that influence how often you should get an eye exam, such as your age, whether you wear glasses or contacts, or if your medical history puts you at higher risk for eye disease.

Don’t worry—we’ll help break it down so that you know where you stand. But first, let’s talk about why regular eye exams are important.

What Is the Purpose of an Eye Exam?

We can’t really talk about when you should get an eye exam without first understanding why people need to get them. Many people tend to think that if they aren’t currently wearing glasses or contacts and don’t have any symptoms affecting their eyes (dryness, blurriness, etc.), then regular eye exams just aren’t necessary.

The truth? Regular eye exams are important throughout every stage of life. They help to:

Correct Vision Problems

An eye exam will assess your visual acuity (ability to see clearly at various distances) and check for refractive errors (issues like nearsightedness or farsightedness, which are caused by how your eye focuses light on the retina). This is what most people think of when they think of eye exams—whether or not they need glasses.

Changes in vision happen naturally over time. If you already have a prescription, your next eye exam might indicate that you need your prescription updated.

On the other hand, if you’ve never needed glasses and think your vision is perfectly fine, your next eye exam still might surprise you with the need for your first prescription. (Did you know your brain is so good at adapting to gradual vision loss that it can actually trick you into thinking your vision is fine?)

Detect Eye Diseases Early

Even if you have 20/20 vision, regular eye exams are important for your eye health. Eye exams can detect diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, and much more. Catching conditions like these early will allow for treatment that can help preserve your vision and prevent other eye problems.

Discover Other Health Conditions

Here’s something you might not know: Through a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor might spot other health issues (not eye related) before your primary care doctor does! That’s because an eye exam gives your eye doctor a clear view of your blood vessels and nerve tissue. How cool is that? 

Some of the many conditions that an eye exam can uncover include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Brain tumors
  • Lupus
  • Thyroid disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
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How Often To Get an Eye Exam

Okay, okay—regular eye exams are important. You get it. So, let’s get to your real question: How often do you need an eye exam?

If you happen to do a little research, you might find there are some differing opinions, but the bottom line is this: Getting regular eye exams is the best thing you can do to safeguard your vision. 

If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms and don’t wear glasses or contacts, then most eye doctors will say you should get an eye exam as follows by age.

How Often To Get an Eye Exam (If You Don’t Have a Prescription)

Infographic detailing the frequency for eye exams by age

Children and Teens

Children’s eyesight changes and develops as they grow, so regular exams are necessary to protect their vision. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that the age to have your child’s first eye exam is as an infant between 6-12 months and then again between ages three and five before school starts.

Once they reach school age, children and teens should have yearly eye exams. As children grow, their body development can cause rapid vision changes, so yearly eye exams are important, and occasionally their optometrist or ophthalmologist might even ask to see them every six months.

Ages 19-64

According to the AOA, as an adult, you should go to the eye doctor for an eye exam at least every two years. If your doctor sees health concerns or vision changes, they may ask to see you every year. Even adults without vision concerns should have a routine exam every few years. 

Ages 65+

The AOA states that adults over age 65 need an annual eye exam. Seniors are more likely to have progressing presbyopia, develop cataracts, or have vision problems resulting from other health conditions. Your eye doctor will let you know what’s best for you and how often you should get an eye exam.

How Often Do You Need an Eye Exam for Glasses or Contacts?

If you wear glasses or contacts, you’ll need to get eye exams more often. Eye prescriptions usually need to be renewed yearly.

Read More: How Is a Contact Lens Exam Different From an Eye Exam?

Risk Factors That Call for More Frequent Eye Exams

There are many factors that can put people at a higher risk for eye disease. You should consult with your eye doctor about the frequency of eye exams that is best for you, but generally speaking, people with risk factors such as those listed below are advised to have eye exams every year.

Speak to your eye doctor if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a family history of eye disease such as glaucoma
  • Have had an eye injury or surgery
  • Are African-American or Latino
  • Take medications with vision-related side effects

When You Shouldn’t Wait To See an Eye Doctor

Infographic showing symptoms that warrant a trip to the eye doctor

Of course, sometimes you shouldn’t wait for your next eye exam to check in with your eye doctor. If you’re experiencing symptoms affecting your vision or comfort, then make an appointment with your eye doctor right away. 

Be mindful of:

How Many Eye Exams Does Insurance Cover?

Coverage varies from provider to provider, but most insurance policies cover a yearly eye exam. Health insurance and vision insurance plans have different offerings, so check with your insurance plan to find your options.

Read More: Is Vision Insurance Worth It? How Does It Work?

Keep an Eye on the Calendar

If you’ve made it this far, then good for you! You’re on the right track for being proactive about your eye health. Regular check-ups are the key to safeguarding your vision, so be sure to book an eye exam as often as you’d like based on the above suggestions.  

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Get your annual eye exam from an expert optometrist at a nearby Warby Parker store.

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