Category Archives: Exam

How often do you need an eye exam

How often is an eye exam recommended? Many people get an eye exam annually, while some believe that is too often. So what is the right answer? Many physicians recommend a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years, depending on age, risk factors and depending if you wear corrective lenses, too.

  • Children should have a comprehensive eye exam around the 6 months of age and another near the age of 3. As they continue to develop, an exam before entering school is highly recommended. This varies between the age of 5 or 6. Undetected issues such as lazy eye, ptosis(drooping of the upper eyelid), or crossed eyes need to be caught early so they can be treated.
  • Between ages 3–19, visits should be scheduled every year or two, unless more are recommended due to specific medical conditions.

These checkups are vital as a child’s eye shape changes, altering eyesight and increasing the need for corrective lenses.

  • For ages 20–40, it is recommended to schedule an eye exam every five years unless vision changes, pain or flashes of light are becoming common within the eye.
  • For those in good health, a baseline eye exam is often suggested at the age of 40 when adult vision usually begin to decline due to aging.
  • Adults ages 40–64, should have an assessment every two to four years, depending on whether on any noticeable changes in vision occur or if he/she are experiencing any symptoms of illness. At age 64, it is important to get checked every one to two years because of an increased risk of glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.

However, it is important to keep in mind the risk factors of high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of eye disease, as it can also cause to have frequent eye exams for your health. For example, people with diabetes are recommended a yearly exam because of risk for eye disorders like diabetic retinopathy.

Eyes are what allow you to see the beauty of everything in life, so to be on the safe side and maintain perfect vision, schedule an eye exam with your doctor today!

Signs Your Child Needs Glasses

When your child is of a very young age, it can be difficult to tell if they are having difficulty with their vision or are simply developing strange habits. It can be especially difficult to tell if your child is having vision difficulty if they have yet to learn how to speak. Because of this, we have gathered some common vision impairment signs.

  1.     Getting too close to objects. This is usually a more common concern for parents. If your child is sitting too close to the T.V. or holding objects close up to their face in order to see, they could be near sighted.
  2.     Are constantly squinting or closing an eye. These are other common signs of vision impairment. If your child is doing this, it can be because they are trying to reduce blurred vision or they are trying to cover the poorer vision. These are signs of amblyopia, strabismus or cataract.
  3.     Tilt their head to see. When children constantly tilt their heads when looking at object, it could be to help reduce double vision. If this is the case, they could have an eye muscle imbalance, also known as strabismus.
  4.     Are constantly rubbing eyes. This can be a sign of tiredness or eye fatigue. If this is constantly occurring, it could be a sign of allergic conjunctivitis.
  5.     Teary eyes. This is common for children whose eyelids don’t completely close when they’re asleep. This can cause dry eyes and vision impairment.

If any of these signs are common or visible in your child, schedule an eye exam to help correct their vision and help them see more clearly!


What Your Prescription Means

If you are one of the estimated 11 million Americans that has a common vision problem such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, then you probably have a prescription for corrective eyewear such as glasses or contact lenses. Do you understand what your script is for and what it means about your vision?

The common eye disorders mentioned above are known as refractive errors and they occur when the eye doesn’t correctly bend, or refract, light as it enters the eye. Let’s take a look at each of these and what it means about your prescription.

The first step to understanding your eyeglass prescription is knowing what “OD” and OS” mean. They are abbreviations for oculus dexter and oculus sinister, which are Latin terms for right eye and left eye. Your eyeglass prescription also may have a column labeled “OU.” This is the abbreviation for the Latin term oculus uterque, which means “both eyes.”

  • Nearsightedness or myopia is when light enters the cornea and is refracted, or “sent” to a spot in the eye before reaching the retina. For people who are nearsighted, the light waves are sent to the wrong place on the retina. Nearsighted is a condition where objects up close appear clearly, while objects far away appear blurry. The extent or amount that a patient is will be denoted in the number on the prescription. If the number appearing under the heading sphere has a minus sign (–), you are nearsighted.
  • Farsightedness or hyperopia means that the light is refracted to a place beyond the retina. Farsightedness means that items far away are clear, but activities like reading and knitting are difficult, because nearby objects appear fuzzy or unfocused. Some people may not notice any problems with their vision, especially when they are young. If the number appearing under the heading sphere on your prescription has a plus sign, you are farsighted.
  • Astigmatism is another refractive error, distorting objects both near and far, so that everything appears out of focus and skewed.

Call Independent Eye Care to have your annual exam and find out more about your prescription.

Signs Your Need an Eye Exam

When should you go to the eye doctor? Once a year, twice a year, every other year? Well, the answer is different for each individual. Typically evaluations every two years should allow for proper vision assessment. However, there are some medical conditions, like diabetes, eye traumas, certain prescriptions or a family history of eye disorders that require more frequent visits. What are some common signs that you should make an eye appointment soon?  If you experience any of these signs, don’t chalk it up to age or exhaustion, call your doctor and arrange for an eye exam as soon as possible.

  • Sudden Change of Vision – Sudden blurry vision or focus problems can be a sign of a larger health issue and should always be taken seriously. If the blurry vision comes and goes, or is limited to one eye, you should schedule an exam as soon as possible.
  • Eye Pain – Eye pain can be caused by seasonal allergies, a cold, or lack of sleep. If the pain is ongoing or increases in strength, call your eye doctor immediately.
  • Light Sensitivity –  Light sensitivity can be a symptom of a number of disorders or eye diseases (as well as an eye infection.) If you find yourself shying away from fluorescent light or sunlight consider making an appointment to get it looked at.
  • Headaches – While headaches could mean any number of medical conditions, frequent headaches could indicate a vision problem.  It is a good idea to rule out eye issues as a cause of the headaches. An eye exam can rule out any serious eye conditions.
  • Floaters or Flashes – Seeing dots floating may be fairly common, but if they increase in frequency or are accompanied by flashes or obstruction of vision call your doctor or head to the emergency room immediately.  This is a sign of a retinal problem that may be serious.
  • Last Eye Exam – if you can not remember the last time you had an eye exam then maybe it is time to set up an appointment.

When to Visit the Eye Doctor

Coming up with excuses of why not to get a regular eye exam is easy: too busy, no insurance, need to find a new doctor, and the list goes on and on. But there are many reasons why getting a regular exam is a good idea. The eyes are more than just a window to the soul, they also are a good place to look for signs of trouble brewing in your body such as diabetes or high blood pressure. So when should you see an eye doctor to get a check up and complete vision exam?

Ideally, one eye exam every year should help you to stay on top of your eye health, but some people might need to schedule more than one exam in a year. Vision can change quite a bit over the course of a year, especially for those over the age of 50, and it is important to know when you need to schedule an exam.

Signs you need an eye exam soon:

  • Your eyes are red, dry, itchy, or you are seeing spots, flashes of light, or floaters.
  • You have diabetes or another health condition, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, that affects your eyes.
  • Your family has a history of conditions like diabetes or glaucoma (you may need exams more often).
  • You can’t remember when you last had an eye exam. If it’s been longer than a year, you’re overdue. Yearly exams are a must for most people.
  • You have difficulty driving at night and seeing street signs in the dark.
  • You experience eye strain, headaches and/or blurred vision after spending an extended amount of time in front of a computer screen.
  • You get motion sick, dizzy, or have trouble following a moving target.
  • You hold books or the newspaper further away from your face and squint or close one eye to read them clearly.
  • You notice changes in your vision, especially after an incident of head trauma.

A regular exam can determine if you have nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or any of the other eye disorders. Cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration can also be determined with regular eye exams.

Pediatric Eye Exams

Parents worry about everything; it’s is only natural. Among other things they worry about keeping their child happy and healthy. Your child’s vision should not be a worry you let slip through the cracks. Eye exams are extremely important because 5-10% of preschoolers and 25% of school aged children have vision difficulties. Due to these statistics the American Optometry Association recommends infants have their first comprehensive eye exam at six months, and children should have additional exams at age three, then again when entering school.

What does a pediatric exam check for?

  • Acuity- A check for near and far distance clarity and sharpness
  • Focusing Skills
  • Eye Tracking Skills and Fixation Skills
  • Binocular Vision or Fusion
  • Stereopsis – two eyed depth perception
  • Convergence Skills – the eyes ability to work together
  • Color Vision

What is involved in an eye exam?

Infant Exams – While an infant can not answer questions and respond the way more verbal children can, the eye exam usually involves:

  • Pupil Response – Does the pupil open and close appropriately?
  • Fixate and Follow – Are your baby’s eyes able to focus and follow an object?
  • Preferential looking – This assesses vision capabilities without a typical eye chart.

Preschool and School Age – Now that children are able to carry on conversations the eye exam can check other areas.

  • Retinoscopy – Helps your eye doctor determine eye glass prescription.
  • Stereopsis – 3D glasses and tests with special patterns are used to evaluate how well your child’s eyes are working together.
  • LEA Symbols – This is similar to a regular exam except that it uses shapes for children to identify instead of letters.

Having your child eye’s examined is critical to the early years of learning.  A child that is having difficulty seeing will also have difficulty reading and learning.  Make an appointment today for your child’s vision exam.



Preparing Your Child for an Eye Exam

Doctor visits can raise anyone’s anxiety level, most of all children’s.  Not knowing what to expect can be the root of the problem.  Therefore, preparing a child for their first eye exam, whether it happens to them as a toddler or when they are school age, is the best course of action.   Perhaps your pediatrician recommended an eye exam from something he/she noticed during a check up or maybe your school age child came home with a note saying that he/she did not pass the vision screening test.  Whatever the circumstances are, it is a good idea to talk to your child about the eye doctor appointment prior to going to alleviate any concerns there may be.

Here are some tips for parents to help children overcome any fears or anxiety about visiting the eye doctor.

  1. Use pictures – Either draw a picture of the human eye or show the child a picture online.  This will help them talk about their eye.  Tell them the names of the parts of the eye, pupil, iris, cornea.  That way these words won’t sound so foreign and scary during the visit.
  2. Role play – Pretend to be the doctor and have your child identify shapes and letters.  Have your child look up and down and following your finger.  Discuss that the doctor may have the child try on funny glasses or look into his/her eye with an instrument that let’s them see the eye better. Also explain that the doctor may need to put eye drops into the eye.  Tell your child that it will not hurt but might sting a little.
  3. Schedule smart – Depending upon the needs and age of the child, schedule the exam for the best time of day for them.  If the child still naps, schedule during a time when they are happiest.  If a child is in school, try to schedule on the least busy day for the office so the child is not overwhelmed with people, sounds and new experiences.
  4. Read stories about eye doctor visits to get your child used to the idea even further. Some great examples include: Arthur’s Eyes, The Princess Who Wore Glasses, Pearl & Wagner: Four Eyes and Curious George Goes to the Doctor.
  5. Visit the website– Most doctor’s offices have website that may have pictures of the actual office as well as pictures of staff members so the child can see that the people are friendly and the office is not so scary.
  6. Pack for comfort – Most children have something that makes them feel comfortable like a stuffed animal or small toy.  Let your child bring a comfort toy that can be stress relieving and can open up a conversation with the doctors, nurses or staff.


What Happens at an Eye Exam?

Doctor’s visits make many people anxious. Knowing what to expect can sometimes quell the jitters prior to a doctor’s appointment.  Understanding the procedures, instruments, and surroundings can help.  So, what happens during an eye exam?  How long does the check-up take?  What procedures can you expect from your annual eye doctors visit?

In the interest of making all patients feel comfortable and relaxed about visiting an optometrist let’s look at what a routine visit would look like.

  • Check In – After checking in at the front desk where a helpful staff member will gather all the necessary insurance forms and patient information, you can wait in the comfort of a cozy waiting area.
  • History and Symptoms – Once you are in the doctor’s exam room the first thing that will probably happen will be a discussion of your medical history and any symptoms you may be experiencing. Knowing your general health background and history with glasses and/or contacts help give a good foundation of information to the doctor. If you are experiencing problems with your eyes or vision your optometrist will need to know what symptoms you have, how long you have had them and whether any changes have happened suddenly or slowly over a period of time.
  • The Exam – Once all background history has been taken the doctor will want to exam both the inside and outside of your eye.  The interior of your eye will be examined using an ophthalmoscope, a special torch which shines a light through the pupil allowing a detailed study of the internal structures. Your pupil reflexes will also be tested. Your vision will be measured both with and without glasses or lenses to check for any problems with your eyesight. He/she will be checking both your near and far vision. In addition to checking internal and external structures, the doctor will check eye movements and coordination to make sure that both eyes are working together
  • Length – The average doctors appointment takes about 30 minutes depending upon the situation and any problems that the patient is having.
  • After the exam – Once the doctor has completed the exam, you may find that he would like to see you back in a certain amount of time, ask for further tests or even decide on the need for glasses or contacts.  This will be determined during the exam and will be thoroughly discussed with you.

New Beverly Office Hours

Beginning October 1st the Beverly location at 495 Cabot Street will be open the following days/hours:

  • Monday      10 am to 4 pm
  • Tuesday       9 am to 6 pm
  • Wednesday  9 am to 6 pm
  • Thursday    10 am to 6 pm
  • Friday              Closed
  • Saturday       9 am to 5 pm

These changes will enable us to now have more optometrist coverage on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.


Back To School

With Summer in full swing, the last thing most of us want to be thinking about is Back to School season. Unfortunately, almost every year it catches us off guard. Why not get a jump on it this year and schedule eye exams for your family early?

With our Beverly location being temporarily closed due to water damage, appointments are filling in fast in Danvers and Topsfield. We are already booking into August in both locations. Our estimated date of opening the Beverly office is Monday, August 4th. Of course this is contingent on the re-construction being completed on schedule.

Call us today in Danvers or Topsfield to schedule your routine comprehensive eye exam before the hectic season of Back to School is upon us!