When was the last time you had your eyes checked? Whether you are registered with an eye doctor near you or not, people of all ages are recommended to attend a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years to check on the health and condition of their eyes and vision.
If you already wear glasses or contact lenses, or if you’ve been diagnosed with an eye health problem like cataracts or glaucoma, your eye doctor may recommend that you increase the frequency of your visits. This is because your eyes may require monitoring more closely. Making time to visit the eye doctor can seem like a low priority, especially if you don’t feel like you are experiencing problems with your eyes. Nevertheless, since many eye problems don’t manifest with noticeable symptoms until some irreparable damage has occurred, it’s best not to risk your vision and instead let your eye doctor monitor your eye health regularly.
A comprehensive eye exam is more than just checking how clearly you can see. Although the exact assessments that you’ll have will vary depending on your eye doctor and practice, there are some evaluations that are fairly standard. To help you prepare for your appointment, here’s what to expect during a comprehensive eye exam.
This consultation is one of the most important parts of any comprehensive eye exam since it involves giving your eye doctor invaluable information about your general and ocular health. Your eye doctor will want to know as many details about your medical history as possible, what your health is like now, and if you currently take any medications for eye or general health problems. This is important since there are many conditions and medications that can affect your vision or the health of your eyes. Your eye doctor will also ask you how clear you think your vision is, and if you are experiencing any issues or have any concerns, such as regular headaches, flashes, or seeing colors differently. The information you share will help your eye doctor to know what issues, if any, to look for.
This is the part of an eye exam that most people are familiar with. Visual acuity testing involves assessing how well you can see at different distances and uses a chart called a Snellen Chart which contains lots of different letters and numbers of varying sizes. You’ll be asked to read specific letters and numbers off of this chart. There are no right or wrong answers, but the results will tell your eye doctor if you need to use prescription lenses.
If your visual acuity testing shows that you need correction in the form of prescription lenses, a refraction assessment is used to decide which prescription you need to correct your vision so that you can see as clearly as possible. In most cases, this is done with either a handheld instrument called a retinoscope or a computerized alternative, both of which will be used to measure how the light is refracted by your eyes.
We’re all guilty of taking basic visual skills, such as our eyes working together to create a single, clear picture, for granted. During your comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will look at how your eyes function both individually and together, as well as how successfully you can track a moving object or respond to visual stimulation, among several other important visual skills. If your visual skills could be improved, you may be recommended exercises to do this.
A slit lamp is a piece of equipment that is used to look at the internal and external parts of the eye in greater detail. This enables your eye doctor to visualize and assess the structures responsible for your vision and your eye health. It can also be used to detect a range of eye conditions including conjunctivitis, cataracts, macular degeneration, and retinal detachment. Detecting these early enables you to start treatment before your vision is permanently impaired.
A piece of equipment called a tonometer is used to detect the presence of glaucoma – a group of conditions characterized by an increase in intraocular pressure that causes damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is a well-known cause of permanent vision loss, so tonometry testing is strongly recommended for anyone who may be at high risk of developing the condition or who has symptoms of high levels of intraocular pressure.
This eye exam requires the pupils to be dilated so that your eye doctor can see through them to the structures that are found at the back of the eye, such as the retina. This dilation is performed using special eye drops that are placed into the eyes around 30 minutes before the exam. Some of the ocular conditions that can be diagnosed using a dilated fundus exam include glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal tears, and tumors affecting the eyes.
Following this particular part of the exam, your eyes will be sensitive to light and your vision could remain blurry for up to 6 hours. You should ensure that you have someone to drive you home after and many patients feel more comfortable wearing sunglasses for their journey back home.
For more on what to expect during a comprehensive eye exam, visit Wellesley Hills Eye Care in Wellesley, MA. Call (781) 501-9120 to schedule an appointment today.