An eye exam is needed for more than just checking your overall vision; an eye doctor can note if you have signs of a developing eye condition or long-term damage to the eyes that needs addressing. A doctor can also examine the condition of the blood vessels in the eyes, and this can tell him or her if you might have other health conditions that need to be checked, such as diabetes or poor blood circulation.
It's usually recommended that adults get an eye exam annually, and even more often if needed to keep track of certain eye conditions. However, you might note a few signs that indicate it's time to get an eye exam no matter your regular schedule, and then discuss your symptoms with your doctor or an optometrist as needed.
Eyes hurt when you cry
If your eyes sting when you cry or when your eyes water for any reason, this can be a sign of dry eyes; the salt in your tears can cause the eyes to sting when they're overly dry. Dry eyes are not healthy eyes, as they can become very sensitive to light, and your vision could become blurred over time. A doctor may prescribe eye drops to lubricate the eyes, or you may need eye protection from dust, dirt, and other debris you come into contact with throughout the day, to help preserve your eye health.
If you find yourself leaning in to see your computer screen or the television, or are holding your phone or other items closer to your face to see them clearly, it's time for an eye exam. You may be subconsciously adjusting the distance between you and certain items as your eyes try to focus, and this puts strain on the eye muscles. It's better to have an eye exam and get glasses or contact lenses, if necessary, so you can see clearly without leaning or holding things close to your face.
Your glasses are damaged
If you break your glasses then of course you'll want to get a replacement pair, but if the lenses of the glasses are peeling, or if you see scratches on the lens surface, this often means those glasses are old and suffering signs of wear. If your glasses are old and outdated, it's probably time to update your prescription for those lenses. This will ensure you're not straining to see even when wearing your glasses and that you're protecting your vision and your eye health overall.