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Eye Health: How often should you schedule an eye exam and who should you see?

By Dr. Dawn Stratton
KyForward columnist

When was the last time you had your eyes examined? I recommend a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years, depending on your age, risk factors and whether you currently wear corrective lenses.

Sometimes, annual exams are recommended. Those who advise annual exams do so because eyes can change very quickly, and in ways that only an eye doctor may detect. The earlier an eye condition is caught, the earlier treatment can begin.

Before you schedule an exam, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the three types of eye care professionals: ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. Who you should see depends on your needs:

• Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MDs or DOs) who specialize in eye care. Not only do they prescribe eyeglasses and contacts, they also perform eye surgery and treat medical conditions of the eye.

• Optometrists have a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. We diagnose vision problems and treat medical conditions of the eye, prescribe glasses and contacts, etc. With a few exceptions, optometrists typically are not trained or licensed to perform eye surgery.

• Opticians are eye care professionals who fit, adjust and repair glasses and teach patients how to apply and care for contact lenses. Opticians are not doctors.

When you go to your exam, I recommend that you bring a list of any prescription or non-prescription medications you are currently taking or took on a regular basis in the past. Include the dosages and how long you have been taking them.

If you currently wear corrective lenses, bring your eyeglasses. If you wear contacts that were prescribed elsewhere, bring a copy of your most recent contact lens prescription. Also, be sure to bring a copy of your vision insurance card and any other medical insurance cards.

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Dr. Dawn Stratton is the founder of Stratton Eyes. She is a graduate of Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago and earned her Doctor of Optometry in 1994. Based in Lexington, Dr. Stratton is a member of American Optometric Association, the Kentucky Optometric Association, the National Association of Professional Women and the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists. She also provides eye exams for patients at the Hope Center, Room at the Inn and The Nest. Visit Stratton-Eyes.com for more information or call 859-245-2020 or email office@strattoneyes.com. You can also find the office on Facebook and on Twitter @StrattonEyes.

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