The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40—the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. Based on the results of the initial screening, your eye doctor will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams.
For individuals at any age with symptoms of or at risk for eye disease, such as those with a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, the Academy recommends that individuals see their eye doctor to determine how frequently their eyes should be examined.
This recommendation does not replace regular visits to your eye doctor to treat ongoing disease or injuries, or for vision examinations for eye glasses or contact lenses. Much like mammograms at 40 or colon screenings at 50, this vision screening is a reminder to adults as they age that they need to maintain their eye health.
A baseline evaluation is important because it may detect eye diseases common in adults aged 40 and older. The evaluation creates greater opportunity for early treatment and preservation of vision.
A thorough eye exam can uncover common abnormalities of the visual system and related structures, as well as less common but extremely serious ones, such as ocular tumors. This evaluation can also uncover evidence of many forms of systemic disease that affect the eyes, like hypertension and diabetes. With appropriate intervention, potentially blinding diseases such as glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy often have a favorable outcome.
Several common eye diseases can impact people 40 and older without them knowing there is any problem with their eyes.