According to the Alberta College and Association of Opticians, it is recommended that you have your eyes examined every 5-10 years, depending on your age.
Of course, as you get older, they should be examined more frequently.
But what do you do if the unexpected happens? Should you wait until your next appointment or book an emergency appointment?
To help you answer those questions, here are some instances of when to see your eye doctor outside of regular exams and when you should visit emergency care:
There’s a Foreign Object in Your Eye
You should seek immediate medical attention if you get any sort of foreign object in your eyes such as dirt, chemicals, or large objects.
In the case of chemicals or small pieces of debris, you should flush your eyes with cool, clear water for fifteen minutes. This will help remove the chemicals or debris and prevent them from causing further damage as you seek urgent care.
Most importantly: Do not rub your eyes!
This is a case where you should visit an emergency room.
You Have an Eye Infection
Eye infections can cause your eyes to become swollen, itchy, or red. You may also notice the whites of your eyes are a pinkish color as well as discharge from your eye.
While this may not require a trip to the emergency room, you should definitely see your eye doctor outside of your regular exams if you have an eye infection.
Your Vision Has Changed
Normal vision changes such as floaters and spots are usually not a cause for concern. However, some may indicate a more serious problem.
If you are seeing a cloud of floaters, flashes of light, or a misty curtain across your vision, you should see your optometrist immediately.
Double vision is also common and can be caused by anything from dry eye to abnormalities in the cornea. While this may not be an emergency, it’s important to book an appointment with your eye doctor to have this examined.
Sudden blurry vision or problems focusing should be examined right away as well. These can be signs of a more serious health issue.
These changes in your vision can also affect your balance, so it is best to get this checked immediately.
Your Eyes Has Been Injured
The most common injury to the eye is known as a corneal abrasion and describes a scratch on the front surface of the eye. This can be caused by being poked or rubbing your eye when there is a foreign body present.
Corneal abrasions can lead to eye redness and sensitivity to light and should be treated immediately.
Other common injuries you should have seen by your optometrist right away include:
- Eye swelling
- Eye bleeding
- Any blow to the eye area
Your Eyes Are Dry
Dry and itchy eyes can be caused by seasonal allergies or prolonged screen use – or it could indicate that you simply have dry eyes.
Dry eye can be a chronic condition and managed by in-office and at-home treatments. If you are experiencing dry eye, you should book an appointment with your eye doctor outside of your regular exams.
You Have Diabetes, Glaucoma, or Retinal Disease
Diabetes affects more than the blood sugar levels in your body. It can also cause damage to your eyes if it is not managed properly – this is known as diabetic retinopathy.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to receive extra care when it comes to your eyes. The same goes for conditions such as glaucoma and retinal disease.
To ensure that these conditions are monitored when it comes to the health of your eyes, make sure you are visiting your optometrist at least once a year or as needed.
Does Alberta Health Cover Appointments Outside of My Regular Exams?
Yes! If you live in Alberta and require additional exams for any of the above reasons, you are covered by Alberta Health.
If you require eye injury treatment or have an eye emergency, you require no referral to visit a doctor of optometry. These professionals are qualified to provide you with urgent eye care.
Your optometrist works with a variety of health care providers to provide you with the eye care you require to ensure optimal vision health!
Regular Exams Are Important Too
Even though you are covered by Alberta Health when it comes to unexpected issues with your eyes, it is still imperative that you keep up with your regular eye exams.
At The Eye Clinic, our optometrist does more than check your prescription. Each visit is an opportunity to monitor your eye health and prevent major vision issues from developing down the road.
Prevention is key and we invite you to book an appointment today to get started on optimizing the health of your eyes!
Give us a call at (780) 761-0800.