photo of eye doctor giving young woman an eye exam

Delaying eye care can have negative consequences since the early stages of many vision/robbing diseases don’t have any symptoms. Once you reach the age of 65, you need to have a comprehensive eye exam with dilation every one to two years, and even more often if you have eye problems. However, because of the ongoing pandemic, many people are delaying eye care visits to avoid crowded places.

Why Is Delaying Risky?

Vision loss can happen painlessly and gradually. Most people won’t notice vision loss until damage has already been done. Putting off eye care can increase your risk of uncontrolled or undetected eye damage, eye conditions, and vision loss. This is especially true for glaucoma. With delayed eye care, there are more severe cases of glaucoma. The eye pressure changes can happen quickly with glaucoma.

What Happens if You Delay Treatment?

For progressive conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and many other corneal conditions, problems can worsen over time. Treating these conditions can prevent further damage to vision. In some cases, there isn’t a way to reverse existing damage.

Risk Factors for Developing Serious Eye Conditions

Some eye conditions are more common in specific demographics so it’s even more important that these groups don’t delay eye care. Early detection is the best way in order to prevent serious damage from conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and more. Those with high blood pressure, diabetics, people with farsightedness or nearsightedness, those with heart disease, or individuals of African, Asian, or Caribbean descent are more likely to develop serious eye conditions.

Symptoms to Pay Attention To

You may not be able to know if an eye condition is progressing or has even developed unless it’s advanced and you are experiencing other symptoms. These symptoms can include severe pain in the forehead or eye, blind spots in central or peripheral vision, light sensitivity, reduced or blurred vision, redness in the eyes, headache and vision changes, spots in your vision, halos around lights, or temporary vision loss.

It’s important to check vision one eye at a time. If you only have symptoms in one eye, this can indicate a problem. It’s important to not just wait for symptoms before you see your eye doctor.

Conditions That Can Happen if You Delay Eye Care

If you are delaying eye care, you could develop one of these conditions, and early treatment is necessary.

  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness. This is when pressure builds up and then eventually causes damage to the optic nerve. You may need medications for glaucoma or your eye doctor can do surgery in order to open up the channel in the eye.
  • Retinal Detachment: Those who have a retinal detachment don’t usually have pain but there are symptoms that can be attributed to something else. These symptoms include blurred vision, flashes of light, and seeing floaters.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Those who have uncontrolled diabetes may also experience diabetic retinopathy. This disease damages blood vessels in the retina. Symptoms can include night blindness, floaters, or loss of vision. Those who are diabetic should definitely not delay any sort of eye care in order to manage this condition.
  • Hypertensive Retinopathy: Having high blood pressure that isn’t controlled can damage blood vessels, similar to diabetic retinopathy. People don’t experience symptoms until this disease is more advanced. Symptoms include headaches, double vision, swollen eyes, and burst blood vessels.
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration: With this condition, you will gradually lose your central vision. There are two types of this disease. Most have dry macular degeneration, with no symptoms in the early stages. When symptoms do appear, they get worse over time. Lines that are supposed to be straight are seen crooked and people start to lose their central vision. With wet macular degeneration, symptoms are similar but can worsen much faster. There can be different treatment options to slow vision loss.

Signs You Are Overdue for an Eye Exam

There are some signs that can indicate it’s time to go see your eye doctor and not put it off any further.

Your Eyes Are Dry: If your eyes are dry then you could have a condition called dry eye, where you aren’t producing sufficient tears. It can make your eyes feel dry and cause other symptoms, such as discharge, redness, stinging, burning, and even pain. It’s a common issue but it can progress to something more serious if it’s not managed. During an eye exam, your eye doctor can help determine what is causing dry eye. Factors such as being in a dry, smoky, or windy environment, along with medications or seasonal allergies, can cause the condition.

You Have Double Vision: Double vision could be a sign of needing a new prescription for your contacts or glasses, but it can also be something more serious. It can mean that there are issues with the muscles controlling your eye movement or problems with your cornea shape. Double vision can be a sign of a stroke when combined with other symptoms, such as numbness or paralysis on one side of the body. If this occurs, don’t wait to see an eye doctor and instead go to the emergency room.

Trouble with Your Peripheral Vision: Issues with your peripheral vision can be a sign of glioma or retinal detachment. The longer you go untreated, the higher your risk for permanent vision loss.

You Have Eye Pain: If you have any eye pain that is lasting longer than 24 hours, even if it is mild, then you should see an eye doctor. Possible causes for eye pain include dry eye, corneal abrasion, an infection, or matter being lodged in the eyeball. It can be a long list of things that can cause eye pain so you don’t want to just assume you know the cause and instead get to the root of the problem in order to get treatment.

Eyes Are Constantly Red or Pink: If your eyes are always red then it can indicate that something is wrong with your eye health. If redness persists for 24 hours then see your provider. It can be a sign of dry eye or a condition called iritis. Pink eye can also be the cause.

Eyes Are Tearing a Lot: Eyes could be tearing from different causes, including dry eye or issues with the cornea. It can be hard to get to the root of the problem and get the right treatment unless you make an appointment with your eye doctor.

How Often to Get Eye Exams?

Without regular eye exams, it can be hard to determine exactly what is going on with your eyes. Even if you feel like there isn’t anything wrong with your eyes, you could still be risking vision loss by developing a condition that is only diagnosed with regular visits. It’s the only way to get ahead of conditions such as glaucoma that can easily progress without you even knowing it. Children should be checked between the ages of three and five and then every year until they turn 18, even if they aren’t having any eye-related symptoms. Once you turn 18 through the age of 64, you should have your eyes checked every two years. Once you are over the age of 65, you should be headed to the eye doctor every year. If you have contacts or glasses, then your prescription might expire every year and you will need to see your eye doctor more frequently. This is also true if you have eye health issues or a family history of eye diseases.

Visit Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute

At Florida Eye specialist and Cataract Institutes, it’s easy to make an appointment with many convenient locations. Routine eye exams are offered at ALL 8 of our clinics, and we have optometrists and ophthalmologists specializing in all areas of primary care and disease. Don’t delay eye care treatment and contact us to make an appointment today! For an eye doctor in Sun City Center or anywhere in the Tampa Bay area “near me,” contact Florida Eye.