Health Checkups

If you remember to get your annual medical checkup, you are on the right track to preventing serious illness before it occurs and catching disease in its earliest stages, when it’s typically easiest to treat. But there are a few other types of regular health checkups that shouldn’t be overlooked. Here are the four most important types of medical appointments you may be overdue for.

1. Eye Doctor Appointment

Even if you don’t wear glasses, it’s important to get your eyes checked every year or two. Not only do these exams help ensure that you can see as well as you should be, they also identify potentially serious eye problems. A dilated eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist checks for cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. All these conditions can lead to vision loss, but early treatment can often help preserve your sight. You should have this exam every two years, or every year if you’re in a group at high risk for vision problems (anyone older than age 60, African Americans aged 40 years and older, and anyone with a family history of glaucoma).

2. Dermatologist Visit

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While skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, it’s often easily treatable—especially when caught early. An annual skin cancer screening can help detect changes in moles or other growths that may signal a malignancy. A dermatologist will examine your skin and look for any abnormal areas, such as moles that have changed color or are larger than a pencil eraser. Suspicious spots will be removed and biopsied to determine whether cancerous cells are present.

3. Breast Exam/Mammogram

While experts once recommended self-checks for breast lumps that may indicate cancer, women should also have an annual breast cancer screening by their gynecologist. The doctor will feel for any suspicious areas and ask you about any changes in your breasts that you’ve noticed since your last visit. He or she will also talk with you about mammogram recommendations, depending upon your personal risk factors. The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women older than age 45.

4. Dental Checkup

Many people eschew an annual dental checkup, reasoning that they keep up with brushing and flossing and aren’t experiencing any issues. However, oral health is a critical part of your overall health, so it’s important to see your dentist once or twice a year. He or she will not only clean and polish your teeth, but also look for early signs of gum disease, cavities, and other small issues that can become big problems if left untreated. And it’s not just about your oral health; regular dentist visits are linked to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease.

If you aren’t sure what screenings and preventive visits you should be having each year, talk with your primary care doctor. He or she can help ensure that your health is in top shape, and make referrals to specialists and other providers as necessary.


Information provided by the doctors at

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