WARNING: Here’s Why You Should Have Your Eyes Checked Like Clockwork

Think you see 20/20? Your eyes may deceive you

The Editors Of Men's Health |

Don’t neglect your peepers—even if you think you have perfect vision. Because that could change without you knowing it, says Dr Andrew Iwach, a spokesman with the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

“You can lose considerable vision in an eye, or some of your peripheral vision, and not notice it because you walk around with both eyes open,” Dr. Iwach says.

Related: Here’s Why Your Eye Can’t Stop Twitching

Plus, day-to-day activities—like your job—could be taking a slow toll on your eyeballs. Staring at a computer screen, book, or paperwork at close range all day long could make you gradually develop nearsightedness, says Joshua Dunaief, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania.

An eye exam involves more than just reading a chart: You also undergo a series of tests that may show signs of glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes, or even cancer, Dr. Iwach says.

Related: The 8 Worst Things You Can Do To Your Eyes

The bottom line: If you’ve been checked and received the ocular okay in the past year, you can get away with an exam every five years, says Men’s Health ophthalmology advisor Dr Kimberly Cockerham. However, if you have health issues or a family history of poor vision or eye conditions, shorten that interval to every two to three years.

In the meantime, wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV protection every time you step outside. Even on cloudy days, the sun’s UV rays may be strong enough to cause imperceptible but permanent eye damage, says Dr. Cockerham. That makes wearing shades the single most important thing you can do to protect your vision.

Related: Why You Should See an Eye Doctor Regularly—Even If You Think Your Vision Is Great

And at work, taking occasional breaks from looking at things right in front of your face may help prevent or slow the damage to your eyes, Dr. Dunaief says. Take a quick walk outside when you can, or at least look up from your laptop and focus your eyes on something far away—like your office wall—a couple times every hour.

Originally published on menshealth.com

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