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Why Your Eyes Should Start Being Screened at Age 40

Posted // Monday, April 29, 2013

The American Academy of Ophthalmologists urges adults to start eye screening at age 40. That’s the age at which early symptoms of eye disease and vision changes typically start showing up. From the initial screening, your ophthalmologist can chart a course for follow-up exams.

Dr. Dan Hennessey sat down with Ashley Blackstone from THV Channel 11 to discuss what you can do to maintain good visual health. You can view the interview now and also read Dr. Hennessey’s tips for keeping your vision healthy below the video.



Dr. Hennessey’s Tips

1) Keep regular maintenance

The Academy’s recommendation of a baseline exam at age 40 doesn’t replace regular treatment of existing disease or injuries. Likewise, it doesn’t take the place of vision exams for corrective lenses or adjustments. If you are already seeing your eye doctor for an existing condition, it is vital to continue those visits and keep up with scheduled exams no matter what your age.

2) Establish a baseline

If you are fortunate enough not to need glasses or treatment for eye disease before the age of 40, then adults with or without symptoms or risk factors for eye disease need to see their optometrist or ophthalmologist to get a baseline eye screening when they turn 40. That’s about the time when eyes begin to show signs of aging and changes in vision. The eye doctor can map out a plan for follow-up exams based on the screening outcome.

And regardless of age, if you are at risk for eye disease — such as diabetes or hypertension or a family history of eye disease like glaucoma, macular degeneration or retinal detachment — you should see your optometrist or ophthalmologist if you haven’t already done so to determine an appropriate eye exam schedule.

3) Early diagnosis means early treatment

Your baseline evaluation may detect eye diseases that are common in people over 40, and that gives you and your eye doctor a better chance to preserve your vision with early treatment of any issues related to common vision abnormalities. Besides the eye problems already mentioned, there are conditions such as tear deficiency or ocular surface disease and computer vision syndrome that are more common past the age of 40. The evaluation can also reveal less common problems, like ocular tumors and narrow angle glaucoma, in a timely manner. Again, the sooner these issues are diagnosed, the better the chances are for successful treatment.

4) Thwart the stealthy sight thieves!

Common eye diseases in people 40 and older can exist for years or decades before becoming noticeable. For example, the most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, has often been called the “sneak thief of sight.”  According to the American Optometric Association, half of all patients with glaucoma do not know they have it and will likely suffer extensive vision loss if left untreated.

If you’re age 40 or older, make a baseline eye exam your top priority.