Comprehensive Eye Exams - What to Expect

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 23-May-2012

iStock_000011770383XSmallIf you haven’t seen your eye doctor recently, it’s time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Eye exams aren’t only necessary for correcting vision, but can help detecteye conditions and eye diseases that could lead to more serious health problems or permanent vision loss.

During your comprehensive eye exam at Key-Whitman, we will evaluate your eyes for a new prescription, but we will also check your eyes for eye diseases and other eye conditions that could lead to vision loss. Be informed about your eye exam prior to your appointment. Some of the conditions we will look for include:

  • Refractive errors - Refractive errors are the most common cause of vision problems and need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are examples of refractive errors. If you are diagnosed with a refractive error, the refractive error can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or vision correction procedures like LASIK.
  • Eye diseases - It’s important that your eye doctor check the health of your eyes for signs of eye diseases like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Many eye conditions do not display any symptoms in the early stages, so you may not notice a change in your vision until the disease has progressed. Early detection and treatment of most eye diseases can reduce your risk of permanent vision loss.
  • Other health problems and diseases - Your eyes can display symptoms of many other health conditions. A thorough exam of your eyes by a doctor can detect early signs of some conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes by looking at the blood vessels in your eye and the retina. Diabetes can cause small blood vessels in the eyes to leak and swelling of the macula, both of which can lead to vision loss. These symptoms of diabetes may appear in the eye before other symptoms of diabetes present themselves. Your eye doctor could help detect diabetes before your primary care physician is able to.

Be prepared for your comprehensive eye exam and know what to expect before you arrive for your appointment. Here are common eye and vision tests you may undergo during your exam:

  • Visual acuity test - Tests the sharpness of your vision using a projected eye chart to measure your distance vision and a hand-held chart to measure near vision.
  • Cover test - A simple test performed to check the vision in each eye individually. This test could indicate strabismus or a binocular vision problem that could lead to lazy eye.
  • Retinoscopy - This test is used to help estimate your eyeglass prescription. The lights in the room will be dimmed and you will be directed to focus on a large target across the room. As you focus on that target (usually a large “E”) a light will be shined into your eye, flipping lenses on a machine set in front of your eyes. The way the light reflects off your eye will help determine your approximate prescription needs.
  • Refraction - A test used to determine precise prescription. A phoropter will be used to show you a series of lens choices, asking you through which lenses your vision is most clear. Your answers will help determine your exact prescription.
  • Aberrometer or autorefractors - A quick and easy way for your doctor to determine your prescription. This test uses wavefront technology to detect vision errors based on the way light travels through your eye. While wavefront is commonly used in LASIK vision correction procedures, many eye doctors are incorporating the technology into routine eye exams.
  • Slit-lamp exam - A biomicroscope is used to give your doctor a magnified view of the inner and outer structures of your eye to detect any eye health problems or signs of infection or disease.
  • Glaucoma test - A tonometry test is used to measure the pressure inside your eye, which is called intraocular pressure (IOP). Eye drops to numb the surface of your eye are used when carrying out this test.
  • Pupil dilation - Dilating drops are used to enlarge pupils, allowing your doctor to get a better view of the internal structures of your eye. Following this exam, your eyes will be very sensitive to sun and light, and you may find it difficult to focus on objects up close. Effects of pupil dilation can last several hours, so be sure to bring a dark pair of sunglasses to wear on your way home.

Upon examination, your eye doctor may recommend a visual field test and a color blindness test. It’s important to remember that a comprehensive eye exam can help detect an eye disease in its early stage, which could reduce your risk of permanent vision loss. An eye exam is nothing to be apprehensive about if you know what to expect. Feel free to ask your doctor any questions about specific tests during your exam.

When considering your eye care, be sure to stay up to date with the latest news and information about our life-changing services at Key-Whitman Eye Center. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected!

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