The importance of ophthalmologic check-ups: when should I do them?

Sight is one of the five senses. In particular, sight allows us to interact with the world thanks to a complex neurological system. For proper vision, both the eye and the brain and their connections need to be intact and functioning properly.

To maintain this function, it is recommended and necessary to have regular ophthalmological check-ups which, depending on the patient’s age, will include different examinations, although all of them have the same objective: that we continue to enjoy the colors that the world offers us.

Ophthalmologic check-ups in pediatric age group

Pediatric ophthalmologic check-up programs are very important. In fact, children do not usually complain about visual difficulties for two reasons: either because of their young age or because, having had the vision deficit since birth, they are not aware that they can see better.

Thus, there are around 205 refractive defects, such as myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism among adolescents. At younger ages there is 4% strabismus and 2% amblyopia, i.e. lazy eye.

All three conditions are treatable, although early diagnosis is important, as good vision is essential for development and learning. For example, a child with one lazy eye will not complain because he or she can see well with the other eye. This is where the importance of check-ups lies, as amblyopia has a very high recovery rate, although it needs early diagnosis.

In the event that the pediatrician detects any warning signs, he/she will refer the child to an ophthalmology specialist, although it is recommended to perform a first examination at 18 months and a second one at three years of age, followed by an annual check-up.

Until reaching the age of majority, the refractive state of the eye may vary, and the refractive defects mentioned above may appear.

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Ophthalmologic checkups in young adults

Between 20 and 40 years of age, the eye is usually stable, without changes in the graduation level and without discomfort. However, there are cases in which periodic check-ups are recommended:

  • High myopes: with myopia greater than five diopters are at risk of retinal tears or detachments.
  • Contact lens wearers: the condition of the cornea should be evaluated periodically.
  • Family history of glaucoma: glaucoma presents a dalo in the optic nerve that has a genetically marked component. The patient does not notice the loss of vision until the disease is advanced, so intraocular pressure should be controlled from the age of 30.
  • Diabetics: high blood sugar levels can damage the retina and compromise vision and, without treatment, can lead to blindness.
  • Headache: some headaches are related to refractive defects or other ocular pathology.

Checkups after the age of 40

Presbyopia or eyestrain can appear once the age of 40 is reached or surpassed. You begin to notice some difficulty in near vision. Pressure checks should be done to avoid glaucoma, even if there is no family history.

Myodesopsias or floaters are a frequent reason for consultation, sometimes associated with severe retinal pathology.

As the years go by, other causes of vision loss may appear, the best known being age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, and once again an early diagnosis is very important.

In the case of cataracts, early diagnosis will make it possible to choose the best time to perform surgery. In the case of AMD, the speed with which the first lesions are determined, the more effective the treatment will be.