Eye exams are important because they help to catch eye problems early. The earlier an eye problem is detected, the easier they are to treat. Treating eye problems early on may help to prevent them from getting worse. Depending on your age and risk of vision problems, you should have eye exams every one to two years.
Before Your Eye Exam
Before you go to your eye exam, you should make sure you’re prepared to answer a lot of questions about your health and medical history. Your eye doctor will ask questions in order to determine your risk for vision problems and eye diseases.
You should be prepared to answer questions such as:
- Do you have any eye problems now?
- Have you ever had any eye problems in the past?
- Do you currently wear contact lenses or glasses?
- Are you happy with your contacts or glasses?
- Do you take any medications? If so, what are they?
- Have you had any recent health problems? If so, what are they?
- Were you born prematurely?
- Do you have any allergies?
- Have you ever had eye surgery?
- Do any of your relatives have eye or vision problems?
- Do you or any of your relatives have diabetes?
- Do you or any of your relatives have heart disease?
- Do you or any of your relatives have high blood pressure?
You should know your complete medical history and anything about your lifestyle or family medical history that may have an impact on your eyes.
During Your Eye Exam
Your eye doctor or a medical assistant will take your medical history. Then, you’ll be given the eye exam, which usually consists of three parts. After the eye exam, any necessary tests will be conducted.
Visual Acuity Measurement
The first step in the eye exam is to measure your visual acuity. This will determine how well you can see and whether or not you need glasses or contacts to correct your vision.
Eye Pressure Measurement
Next, your eye doctor will measure your eye pressure. The eye doctor will numb your eyes first with numbing drops. Then, they will use eye drops to dilate your eyes so that they can better examine the insides of your eyes.
Eye Health Evaluation
While your eyes are dilated, your eye doctor will most likely evaluate both the inside and the fronts of your eyes using different lighting and imaging techniques.
Additional Eye Tests
Depending on your eye health and your risk of eye problems such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, your eye doctor may also run tests on your eyes.
Visual Field Testing
Visual field testing is used to detect eye diseases, glaucoma, tumors, and strokes. The test involves measuring your peripheral vision and how sensitive your eyes are at different fields of your vision.
The OCT test checks how thick your retinas are and can be used to detect eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, macular holes, and diabetic retinopathy. The test is non-invasive and involves your eye doctor using light waves to take retinal cross-sections.
Optomap Retinal Imaging
Your eye doctor may use the Optomap retinal imaging device to take more detailed photos of your eyes. Your eye doctor can use these images to get a comprehensive assessment of your overall optical health.
Diabetic Eye Exam
If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, your eye doctor can test your eyes specifically for eye problems related to diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy.
Plaquenil is the brand name of hydroxychloroquine and is used for treating diseases such as malaria, lupus, and arthritis. Taking this medication can cause eye problems, so if you take Plaquenil, your eye doctor will want to screen for eye problems that may result.
Macular Degeneration Screening
If you’re at risk for macular degeneration, your eye doctor will screen for it by checking the centers of your eyes for any vision loss. Macular degeneration is common in people who are over the age of fifty, so as you age, your eye doctor will want to screen for this disease.
Your eye doctor may also want to test the thickness of your corneas. A pachymetry is a test using a device called a pachymeter to measure your corneal thickness. This test can help to screen for glaucoma.
After Your Eye Exam
Once your eye exam is complete, your eye doctor will talk with you about the results of your exam. This includes any specialized test results as well as the results of the normal exam. Your eye doctor will also let you know whether you’re at risk for any eye diseases and can explain what steps you should take yourself in order to prevent vision loss.
If the exam results show that you need vision correction, your eye doctor will give you a prescription after the exam is complete. You can choose lenses at your optometrist’s office or take the prescription to another office if you’re searching for specific frames. Alternatively, you may be able to fill your prescription online.