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How Often is an Eye Exam Needed?

Eye exam frequency

This is one of the questions we frequently hear at VISION. We have compiled a table to help answer your questions.


Infants are born with underdeveloped visual systems. A child's visual system develops throughout the first months and years of life.

First eye examination: 6 months of age. Certain conditions that require attention can be detected early e.g. strabismus (“squint”). A family history of eye problems as well as a premature birth may increase the risk of visual problems. It is recommended that a paediatric ophthalmologist examines children under four.

Preschool Children

The visual system is enhanced during the preschool years, it is therefore important to detect problems that may affect proper development.

Exam frequency: Preschool children should have an eye exam by the age of four and again before Grade 1.
Spectacle wearers/Eye exercises: If a child is prescribed spectacles or eye exercises during this time an eye exam is recommended yearly.

School-Age Children

Children eye exams

The visual system is crucial for academic performance and sport. Undetected vision problems may cause a drop in performance in these areas.

Exam frequency: Every 18-24 months if no vision problems are present.
Spectacle wearers/Eye exercises: If a child is prescribed spectacles or eye exercises during this time an eye exam is recommended yearly.

Adults under 40

Eye exams adults

Spectacle/Contact lens wearers: Yearly exams
Non-Spectacle/Contact lens wearers: Every 18-24 months or sooner if symptoms develop or there is a family history of eye disease.
Adults with health problems: More frequent examinations may be needed for adults with diabetes, high blood pressure and other disorders as many diseases can affect the health of your eyes.

Adults Over 40

From the early forties the eye’s ability to focus on close objects begins to decrease. This is a normal physiological change known as presbyopia. Also, the risk of eye disease such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration increases with advancing age. Often there are no symptoms in the beginning stages therefore it is crucial to detect any eye disease early.

Exam Frequency: Yearly exams.

Contact Lens Wearers

An annual exam of the cornea is required as per the Health Professional’s Council of South Africa. This is to make sure that no unwanted side effects that may lead to complications are present on the surface of the eye.

Compiled and modified by Davor Jadrijevic and taken from Health's Disease and Condition Pages.

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