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Over 65? Get Your Vision Checked

If you are age 65 or older, have your eyes checked every 1 to 2 years. People with diabetes need to have their eyes checked more often.

Regular eye exams help your doctor find eye problems early, when they can be easily treated. There are two types of doctors that can perform an eye exam, optometrists and ophthalmologists.

What happens during an eye exam?


  • The doctor will put drops in your eyes to enlarge (or dilate) your pupils. A dilated eye exam is the only way to find some types of eye disease.
  • You will read charts with letters and numbers to check your vision.
  • The doctor will do tests to look for problems with your eyes, including glaucoma.

What will the doctor look for during an exam?

Your vision changes as you get older. Some changes are more serious than others. Over time, eye diseases like glaucoma can lead to vision loss and blindness.

The doctor will look for eye problems that are common in older adults, including:

Am I at risk for eye disease?

You may be at high risk for eye disease if you:

  • Are age 65 or older
  • Are African-American and over age 40
  • Have diabetes
  • Have a family member with diabetes or eye disease

Any changes in the appearance of your eyes or vision should be investigated further. Some examples include:


  • Unusual trouble adjusting to dark rooms
  • Difficulty focusing on near or distant objects
  • Squinting or blinking due to unusual sensitivity to light or glare
  • Change in color of iris
  • Red-rimmed, encrusted or swollen lids
  • Recurrent pain in or around eyes
  • Double vision
  • Dark spot at the center of viewing
  • Lines and edges appear distorted or wavy
  • Excess tearing or "watery eyes"
  • Dry eyes with itching or burning
  • Seeing spots, ghost-like images

The following may be indications of potentially serious problems that may require emergency medical attention:


  • Sudden loss of vision in one eye
  • Sudden hazy or blurred vision
  • Flashes of light or black spots
  • Halos or rainbows around light
  • Curtain-like blotting out of vision
  • Loss of peripheral (side) vision

Above content provided by the US Department of Health & Human Services in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted September 2010

Contact Information

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Call 1-800-667-5356. Representatives are available to assist you live 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Contact Information

Longwood Medical Eye Center
Division of Ophthalmology
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Shapiro Clinical Center, 5th Floor
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-3391

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