Unless our glasses break or we notice changes in our vision, we wear the same pair of glasses for years without giving a thought to whether we need new ones. Although we think we can still see clearly, vision changes over time, typically becoming worse. There may be small and subtle changes so gradual that we are barely aware of them. So, how often should we have our eyes examined? How often is it necessary to consider new glasses? There is no simple answer to this question. Some people may have to change their prescription frequently, while others may not need to for many years. As a general rule, it is recommended that adults over 16 years of age have their eyes tested every two years and those over 70 once a year. Your optometrist is the best person to advise you and make a judgement as to whether your glasses need changing or not.
If you feel that you see perfectly with your current glasses and are not experiencing any problems, why is it necessary to visit your optometrist regularly? Prescriptions change over time. If you are wearing an outdated prescription you may be causing unnecessary eyestrain that could easily be prevented. Factors such as minor damage to the lens and misalignment of your glasses have a role to play in compromising your vision. Lens technology is constantly improving, offering better options for effective vision. Certain eye conditions develop gradually, with symptoms being noticed when the condition is quite advanced. With regular eye examinations your optometrist will assess your general eye health and detect problems before you are aware of them. The earlier certain conditions are diagnosed, the sooner they are managed, and the better the prognosis.
At times there are signs that may alert you to the fact that you need to see your optometrist and possibly purchase new glasses. Recurring headaches are one of the earliest signs that there may be vision changes. While you may not notice the slightest change in your vision, the brain may recognise it and try to correct the problem, often resulting in headaches. People who are shortsighted typically experience headaches in the front of the head or over the eyebrow, and people who are farsighted tend to experience headaches after looking at things closely for an extended period of time.
Squinting is a natural way to attempt to improve focus and clarity, and you may not even realise you're doing it until you experience eye strain or a headache. Increased squinting, whether while reading, working on the computer or looking into the distance, is probably an indication that your prescription needs updating.
If your eyes are constantly feeling fatigued or strained, you may be experiencing one of the clearest signs that your vision has changed. Eye fatigue can be caused by a number of factors, including lack of sleep, seasonal allergies and extended periods of time reading or working on the computer. These should be relieved fairly easily, but ongoing eye strain or fatigue usually means a new prescription may be necessary.
Blurred vision may or may not necessitate new glasses, but a visit to your optometrist is advised to determine whether it is due to an old prescription or a symptom of an eye condition that requires further assessment.
Children, just like adults, need regular eye examinations. As children grow, so do their eyes, and subtle changes in vision may occur. Vision is subjective, so a child is unaware that he sees differently from others and may not be seeing as clearly as others do. Parents and teachers may be the ones who pick up tell-tale signs such as squinting, holding a book close to the face, or complaints of eye strain or headaches after doing close work. As the child progresses through school visual demands increase with more reading, computer work or longer hours spent doing homework. If the child's vision is not as clear as it should be other problems may arise, including negative attitudes to school and school work.
If the child wears glasses, parents need to be alert to issues such as scratched lenses, bent frames or poorly fitting glasses, all of which can contribute to compromised vision. Children are often less careful with their glasses than they should be, so they might need to visit their optometrist based on their visual needs rather than on the calendar!