When was the last time you had your eyes checked? If you can’t remember, call your eye doctor today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Regular eye exams aren’t only necessary for correcting refractive errors and vision problems; maintaining regular appointments with your ophthalmologist can help detect eye conditions and diseases that may lead to more serious health problems or vision loss.
If it’s been a while since you’ve seen your eye doctor, you may be wondering what to expect. During your comprehensive eye exam with the doctors at Key-Whitman Eye Center, we will evaluate your eyes for glasses, and we will also check your eyes for eye diseases and other eye conditions that could lead to vision loss.
Be prepared prior to your exam
When you schedule your appointment, notify your eye doctor’s office of any vision problems you may be having. Because eye health and overall health are often related, it’s important that you compile a list of any medications you may be taking and be prepared to discuss your own and your family’s health and eye health history.
What to expect during your exam
During your eye exam, you may undergo any combination of the following
common vision tests:
- Visual acuity test – This is perhaps the most well known vision test, utilizing a chart with rows of letters decreasing in size, beginning with a large E at the top. The visual acuity test will measure your distance vision and near vision. With one eye covered, you will read each line of the chart, continuing until you can no longer read the letters.
- Cover test – A simple test performed to check the vision in each eye individually, as well as how well your eyes work together. This test could indicate strabismus or a binocular vision problem that could lead to lazy eye.
- Retinoscopy – This test is used to help your eye doctor 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”) your doctor will shine a light into your eye, flipping lenses on a machine set in front of your eyes. The way the light reflects off your eye will help your eye doctor determine your approximate prescription needs.
- Refraction – Used to determine your precise prescription. Your doctor will use an instrument to show you a series of lens choices, asking you through which lenses your vision is most clear. Your answers will help your doctor determine your exact prescription.
- 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 – Most glaucoma tests are now performed by numbing the eye and using a Tonopen, a small pen-like instrument with a read-out, to determine the pressure of the eye. High eye pressure is a sign of glaucoma.
- 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.
- Visual field test – Used to detect potential blind spots in the eye due to eye diseases like glaucoma. A visual field test can also be used to identify areas of brain damage caused by a stroke or a tumor. Visual field tests are done if the patient is suspect of glaucoma or a glaucoma patient. Other patients with pathological conditions like Lupus will have this testing to look for effects from certain medication.
What to expect after your exam
Depending on the results of your exam, your doctor may prescribe prescription eyeglasses. Ask your doctor about alternative vision correction options, such as LASIK laser eye surgery. If your doctor detects any eye conditions or problems with your eye health, you should expect follow up instructions and perhaps treatment.