Q. My eyesight seems perfect. Do I still need to get checkups?
A. Yes, you still need eye checkups. The old adage “Looks can be deceiving,” certainly applies here. Many people can have normal vision but still have significant eye disease. One such example is glaucoma, where a patient can have 20/20 vision but elevated intraocular pressure without symptoms. If the intraocular pressure stays high for long periods of time, the patient can lose peripheral vision. It is recommended that patients with a positive family history of glaucoma be screened annually. Another example is diabetic retinopathy. Many patients can have normal vision yet have significant proliferative or background diabetic retinopathy. If caught early, significant loss of vision can be minimized with diabetic laser treatment. It is recommended that all diabetics have annual eye examinations with dilation of their pupils. A third example is amblyopia or “lazy eye.” Children – especially young children – can seem to have normal vision by solely relying on their one normal eye and not using their “lazy eye.” In most cases of amblyopia, vision in the “lazy eye” can be significantly improved if treated before age nine. Children should have a complete eye exam, preferably between ages three and five, but definitely before starting school. For the average adult, I recommend a complete eye exam every one to three years. For senior citizens, I recommend a complete eye exam annually.
Charles A. Kirby, M.D.
Chattanooga Eye Institute
5715 Cornelison Road, 6600 Building
Chattanooga, TN 37411