Information documented in the June issue of Optometry and Vision Science indicates that nearly half of all routine eye exams result in prescription changes, even in patients that hadn’t noticed a change in their visual acuity. This helps to stress the need for people to schedule comprehensive eye exams more frequently, even if they feel their eyesight hasn’t changed since their last visit.
Elizabeth L. Irving, PhD, and colleagues of University of Waterloo, Ont., Canada was the lead researcher involved in the study. “In asymptomatic patients, comprehensive routine optometric eye examinations detect a significant number of new eye conditions and/or results in management changes” she said.
These unexpected changes in prescription are far more common in older patients and those with longer intervals between visits.
The study focused on almost 6,400 patients, from young children to senior citizens that were seen at the researcher's’ eye clinic over a 12-month period. Approximately 40% of those patients reported not having any issues with blurry vision, headaches, or other any other eye-related problems.
However, despite being asymptomatic, nearly 60% required at least one significant change in their prescription, including changes in visual acuity, development of a new condition, or adjustments to treatment methods of existing conditions. Some of the patients had changes in more than one of these categories.
What’s best taken from this study is the importance of routine eye examinations, and how they can help prevent vision loss by screening for asymptomatic eye diseases. What isn’t yet established is the ideal frequency of exams for patients without any vision problems or eye-related symptoms. It’s recommended that more frequent is better, but too frequent can just be a waste of time and money.