It’s important to remember that the eyes are connected to many other systems in the human body. That makes routine eye exams an important part of preventative healthcare—regardless of your age or physical health.
Comprehensive eye exams not only test your vision, but also give optometrists a close-up look at the inside of the eye, including blood vessels, veins and nerves, all of which may contain clues to conditions that affect your overall health.
Some of these conditions can be quite serious, which means that an eye exam can actually help save your life. The sooner an issue is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment.
Other health conditions that may show symptoms in the eyes include tumors, aneurysms, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, sickle cell disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological or brain disorders.Only comprehensive eye exams will help detect these conditions because they evaluate total eye health; sight tests will only gauge how well you see.
The Alberta Association of Optometrists recommends adults have an eye exam every two years, and annually for those over 65. Children should have at least one eye exam between the ages of two and five, and yearly after starting school. Infants should have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age.
In Alberta, annual comprehensive eye exams are covered for children until they turn 19, and seniors 65 and older. Medically necessary visits to an optometrist, including eye infections, eye injuries or sudden changes in vision are also covered for Albertans of all ages.