What To Expect At Your Next Eye Exam
Routine eye exams are important for your overall health and well being. If you've never had an eye exam, you deserve to know what to expect when you visit the optometrist.
A comprehensive eye examination is much like any other physical. Your eye doctor will use various tests, tools and procedures to examine your vision as well as the health of your eye and recommend corrective lenses if your vision isn't 100%. In some cases you may need a mild prescription to help improve your vision, while in others your doctor may recommend more extreme measures.
Your eye doctor will also review the overall health of your eye including the anterior segment (lids, lashes, cornea, conjunctiva, iris pupil and lens) as well as the posterior segment (retina, optic nerve, macula, arteries/veins and vitreous) to check for common eye diseases. The typical eye exam can take between 30 – 45 minutes depending on the health of your eyes and whether you need corrective lenses.
Common Tests Used During Eye Exams
There are many common tests your eye doctor uses during an eye examination. Some of these are listed below:
- Visual Field Screening - This test is usually performed by the eye care assistant, also known as a technician, with the assistance of a machine to analyze your visual field. The machine then prints out a detailed reading of areas of the vision that were or were not seen.
- Tonometry - This test is important to determine the eye pressure in the evaluaton for glaucoma. There are various ways to test the intraocular pressure (IOP) or eye pressure. Non-Contact Tonometry is typically performed by the technician. Many of you know this test as the “puff of air test.” Contact Tonometry is performed by your eye doctor by a probe that touches the eye. But because a numbing drop is used during this test, you won’t feel a thing. Infact, most patients prefer this method over the puff of air.
- Retinoscopy - This is a technique to obtain the objective measurement of your prescription. It provides a way to estimate what your vision prescription may be. It can either be performed by an automated machine or it can be done manually with a retinoscope. The retinoscope shines a bright light into the eye, while the doctor is observing the reflection off your retina, he or she can determine your estimated prescription.
- Refraction - This test uses an instrument referred to as a phoropter. It looks kind of like a space age eye examination machine with varying lenses. Your eye doctor will use this instrument to test various lenses against your eyes, enabling the eye doctor to determine the best power prescription for your eyeglasses or contacts. The phoropter measure the exact level of astigmatism, myopia or hyperopia you may have.
- Cover Test - During this test, your eye doctor will cover one eye at a time to detect any ocular deviation such as strabismus also known as an eye turn or lazy eye. Essentially, it measures how well your eye works together and helps detects problems including poor depth perception.
- Slit Lamp -During this test the doctor uses a special high power microscope to examine the structures of your eye, testing for infections or ocular diseases. You place your chin on a chin rest, while your eye doctor reviews your ocular structures through the microscope. This test is beneficial for detecting conjunctivitis and other common eye diseases as well as more serious ocular conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Dilated Fundus Exam - This test requires the doctor place an eye drop in the eyes in order to dilate the pupil. With the pupils dilated, it creates a larger window for your doctor to look inside the eyes. The drops typically take 15-20 minutes to take affect. Once dilated your doctor will test your eyes for various eye diseases. This is an important test for measure the health of the internal structures of the eye.
It is important to understand that even if you are not experiencing any blurred vision, it is still a good idea to get your eyes examined every year. The doctor not only checks your vision and prescribes the appropriate eyewear, but they also check the over all health of your eye.
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