When it comes to caring for your eyes, you may not see your eye doctor as often as you should. But if it’s been years or decades since you last saw one, it has definitely been too long.
Not sure if you should see your eye doctor? Keep reading for 8 signs it’s been too long since your last visit!
1. You are experiencing eye pain
If your eyes hurt or are causing you any kind of pain, you should get them checked out by an eye care professional sooner than later. Experiencing eye pain is not normal, and could be a sign of underlying eye conditions.
Your eye pain could be due to many things: acute angle-closure glaucoma, which causes severe pain, or infection, a scratched cornea, dry eye syndrome…the list goes on and on!
A thorough eye exam will help to determine the cause of your eye pain and the best course of treatment to resolve the problem. Do the smart thing and see your eye doctor to rule out anything serious and treat your eye pain.
2. You are suddenly more sensitive to light
Any vision changes that come on quickly should be examined by your eye doctor. If you are more sensitive to light, it may be because of inflammation in the eye.
There could also be an issue with your cornea or retina. The only way to know what is going on is to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist, who can thoroughly examine your eyes to determine why you have become more sensitive to light.
3. Driving at night becomes more difficult
If you find it becoming progressively (or suddenly) more difficult to drive at night, this is often one of the most common signs of having a cataract. Although many people think that cataracts only develop when you’re older, that is simply not true.
Cataract development can start as early as your forties or fifties, and you may not even know you have cataracts at first, as cataracts can take years to completely develop. If you find out that you have a cataract, you may need to give up driving at night, at least for a little while, or adapt your prescription.
When cataracts occur, the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy and harder to see through. This leads to vision impairment and can even result in total blindness if untreated.
The good news? You can have cataracts removed with cataract surgery, which restores clear vision in patients!
Having difficulty driving at night is not always a sign that you have cataracts, so let your eye doctor know if you’re experiencing other eye problems as well.
4. Your vision has changed very quickly
It’s normal for your vision to fluctuate and change over time. What’s not normal, though, is for your vision to change very quickly and continue fluctuating. If this happens, it could be a sign of a serious eye disease.
If your vision changes come along with loss of vision, blurry vision, nausea, and even headaches, see your eye doctor right away. If you’re only experiencing temporary vision changes, it could be due to fluctuations in blood sugar caused by diabetes.
If your blood sugar isn’t stable, this can make your vision seem blurry. It’s important to let your eye doctor know if you have any conditions like diabetes, as you may need to be seen more often.
5. Your vision is now blurry
If your vision seems blurrier or it’s now harder to focus on objects around you, you should see your eye doctor. You may only need an updated prescription for your glasses or contact lenses, but the only way to know for sure is to have a comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist or ophthalmologist.
It could also be a sign of something more serious, so you are always better off seeing your eye doctor if something doesn’t seem quite right with your vision.
6. You just got diagnosed with a chronic condition like diabetes
Anytime you receive a diagnosis of a chronic condition like diabetes, you need to let your eye doctor know and then see them for an appointment. Chronic conditions can actually affect the health of your eyes and may change how often you need to see your eye doctor.
Because of a chronic condition like diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, or multiple sclerosis, you may need to see your eye doctor every six months instead of only annually. To keep your eyes healthy, you may need to develop an individual plan with your ophthalmologist or optometrist. Talk to them and come up with a treatment plan if necessary.
7. Your eyes feel much drier than normal
If your eyes feel dry, itchy, irritated, or uncomfortable, you may have a condition called dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome is incredibly common, as millions of Americans are diagnosed with it every year.
Though it’s common, the best solution for treating the frustrating symptoms of dry eye syndrome is talking to your eye doctor. If you have dry eye syndrome, they can diagnose you with it and then come up with a custom treatment plan to treat the root cause.
This may include making lifestyle changes, using artificial tears, trying medications, using punctal plugs, taking omega-3 supplements, or increasing your water intake. For many patients with dry eye syndrome, it can take a combination of medication and lifestyle changes before they find substantial relief from their symptoms.
8. You think you may have an infection like pink eye
Pink eye or conjunctivitis is an eye condition that is often quite contagious. It occurs because of inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva.
The conjunctiva is the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white part of the eyeball. Your eyes appear pink or red with pink eye because the blood vessels of the conjunctiva become inflamed, making them easier to see.
This is why the whites of your eyes look more red or pink when you have pink eye. The two most common causes of pink eye are a bacterial or viral infection and an allergic reaction.
If you have pink eye because of allergies, it is not contagious, but if you have it because of a bacterial or viral infection, it is. See your eye doctor if you think you have pink eye and you wear contact lenses and your symptoms don’t get better after 12 to 24 hours.
In some cases, you could have a more serious eye infection due to your contact lens use that an eye doctor needs to treat aggressively.
If you know that it’s been far too long since your last visit to see your eye doctor, it’s never too late to make your eye care a priority! Request an appointment at Diagnostic Eye Center in Houston, TX today! If your eyes are bothering you, we’re here to help!