ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Getting an eye exam can be nerve-wracking, but it's key to maintaining good eye health.

May is Healthy Vision Month, with its observance serving as a reminder to get your comprehensive eye exam to check for common eye problems, like cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.

"Regular checkups are very important because we can catch eye disease before it really has a chance to take hold of somebody's eyes," said Dr. Chad Marcantonio, with Charlottesville Eye Associates.

He says that after the age of 60, he recommends going to the eye doctor every one to two years. Before that, he recommends going once every five years, if your screenings look healthy.

"We can prevent diseases that can really have a devastating effect and there's a lot of eye diseases where they're completely reversible, Cataracts is one of those. So there's a misperception among many people that our vision is just supposed to get bad as we get old and that's simply not the case," he said.

An eye exam will involve a vision check, as well as checks of eye pressure, eye movement, pupils, and then looking at the front and back of the eye. In order to look at the back of the eye, the doctor will dilate your pupils.

"In general, in order to rule out most eye pathology, we have to look in the back of the eye, so that's where we can make a diagnosis of macular degeneration, or glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy," Marcantonio said.

The dilation will only last a few hours and may make it difficult to read things up close.

Because some of these eye diseases can be slowed down or reversed entirely, time is of the essence.

"In general, I think some people will hold off or delay coming into the doctor because they're afraid of getting a diagnosis, but if you come in and we're able to give you a diagnosis for something that's bothering you, the sooner we treat it, certainly, the better," he said.

To learn more about protecting your eyes, click here.