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May 7, 2019

Health & Science As people age, regular eye exams are important

By Consumer Reports

When was your last eye exam?

About 1 in 5 Americans ages 50 to 80 hasn’t had one in the past two years, according to a recent University of Michigan poll. That may not be often enough.

People 65 and older should have an eye exam at least every other year, and those 55 to 64 every one to three years, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). (If you have a personal or family history of eye disease or a condition that increases the risk of vision problems, talk with your doctor.)

Regular eye exams are especially important with age, when the risk of conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration rises.

“All of these are at least treatable — and some curable — if caught early,” says Hilary Beaver, an associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

But “most medical insurance plans don’t cover routine checks of your vision and eye health if you don’t have symptoms or signs of disease,” says Adam Gordon, a clinical associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. (Vision insurance may be an add-on to your policy.)

Insurance generally covers exams for those with — or at risk for — certain conditions, and to diagnose symptoms. But routine exams can cost $150 or more out of pocket. In addition, Beaver says, some eye doctors may recommend high-tech imaging tests that can add about $100.What should an exam cover?

During a routine exam, vision-care technicians will often check your eyesight, peripheral vision, and your eyes’ ability to work together and move in all directions.

Doctors will then use a lighted microscope (slit lamp) to inspect your outer eye. For a look inside, and to check your retina and optic nerve, doctors will use drops to dilate your pupils. They will also look for signs of eye disease.

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Source: The Washington Post

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