What’s your favourite activity to do on the weekend? Maybe it's catching up with friends over dinner, going for a walk along the beach, gardening or going to the park. Such simple activities to enjoy, but can you imagine doing them in the dark?
As you age, problems with your vision are common. But, unlike some conditions that you can’t prevent, some eye problems can be treated (and vision loss minimised) when diagnosed early through regular eye checks with an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
If you’re aged over 40, take action now. Book in for an eye check and ensure your vision lasts as long as you do.
Here’s what you need to know about when to have an eye check-up:
All Kiwi children aged 15 and under are eligible for free vision checks, which usually occur at birth, at their B4 School Check (through their Well Child provider, such as Plunket) and at school between ages 11–12 years. If any problems are found, your child will be referred for a full assessment.
If you’re concerned about your child’s vision, talk with your Well Child provider, family doctor or an optometrist. Not all problems are picked up during the free checks.
Under 40 years
Your risk of vision loss increases when you’re over 40, but when you’re younger it’s still important to watch for signs of eye problems. Regular headaches, difficulty reading, eye strain and blurred vision may be a sign it’s time to book in with an eye specialist.
If you have diabetes, it’s recommended you have a retinal examination every two years.
People with diabetes have about 25% greater risk of developing problems with their vision. Diabetic retinopathy, if diagnosed early, can be treated to help prevent or slow vision loss.
Over 40 years
As you age, your risk of developing eye problems, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts, increases.
If you have a family history of glaucoma, especially a parent or sibling with glaucoma, your chances of getting it are increased. It's recommended you have regular eye checks with an eye professional. Glaucoma needs to be found before there are any signs of deteriorating eyesight as the damage to the optic nerve cannot be repaired – but the disease can be stopped in its tracks once it is diagnosed.
With no family history, Glaucoma NZ recommends the 45 + 5 eye examination: At age 45, book in for an eye check examination and, if no problems are found, have eye checks every five years after that.
Over 50 years
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of vision loss in Kiwis this age group but, once diagnosed, treatments are available to help minimise further vision loss. Because the cause of AMD is unclear, the best way to prevent problems is to see an eye professional every few years. There are certain risk factors, such as smoking, poor diet, being female and a family history that increase your risk of developing AMD.
Over 60 years
Your risk of getting eye-related problems and vision loss continues to increase after age 60. Cataracts become more common even without any vision problems. If you’re over 60, have your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They can recommend how long between eye examinations depending on their findings.
Do I need an eye test? Specsavers NZ
Prevalence predictions for age-related macular degeneration in New Zealand have implications for provision of healthcare services New Zealand Medical Journal