Eye exams for adults

Use the guidelines below to schedule routine vision checks and eye exams with an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

For adults without vision problems:

  • Some experts do not recommend routine screening.
  • Starting at age 40, when presbyopia often develops, screening every 2 to 5 years may be appropriate.
  • Starting at age 50, some experts recommend yearly exams for glaucoma and other age-related vision problems. Other experts recommend starting regular glaucoma screening at age 65. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all people over the age of 20 be screened for glaucoma.1 After reviewing all of the research, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has not recommended for or against routine glaucoma screening for adults.2
  • For people with diabetes, experts recommend a yearly eye exam.3
  • For people with a disease that affects the eyes, yearly eye exams may be appropriate.

For adults with refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism) or other eye problems:

  • Between the ages of 19 and 40, have an eye exam every 2 years, or more often if needed.
  • At around age 40, or when signs of presbyopia develop, schedule an appointment.
  • At age 50 and older, have yearly eye exams, or more often if needed.

For more information, see the topics Nearsightedness (Myopia), Farsightedness (Hyperopia), Strabismus (Cross-Eyes), Amblyopia (Lazy Eye), and Glaucoma.


  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology (2005). Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Suspect, Limited Revision (Preferred Practice Pattern). San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology. Also available online: http://www.aap.org/ppp.
  2. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2005). Screening for glaucoma: Recommendation statement. Annals of Family Medicine, 3(2): 171–172. Available online: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf05/glaucoma/glaucrs.htm.
  3. American Diabetes Association (2008). Standards of medical care in diabetes. Clinical Practice Recommendations 2008. Diabetes Care, 31(Suppl 1): S3–S110.

Last Updated: July 6, 2009

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

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