Some eye conditions arise with few or no symptoms noticeable in day-to-day life. A brief annual exam checks for changes to vision and for the presence of any symptoms of eye diseases. The exam can catch potential issues before they become problematic or even untreatable, making it a critical part of maintaining your overall health and well-being.
What to Expect
An ophthalmologist, optometrist or orthoptist is qualified to conduct your eye exam, and you can get that exam at a variety of locations.
1) Offices of independent eye care professionals
2) Clinics with eye care departments
3) Group eye care practices
4) Eyeglass retailers that have an affiliated eye care professional
5) Optical departments of large retailers
Depending upon individual health history and risk factors, the eye exam includes most of the following steps:
1) An oral questionnaire inquires after noted changes to vision or health.
2) Visual acuity is measured by asking a patient to read letters on a Snellen chart. This test is often a first indicator that patients require corrective lenses or that their prescription for corrective lenses needs to be updated.
3) Retinoscopy and refraction assessment refine a patient’s prescription by having her compare vision while clicking through a series of lenses.
4) Pupil function
is checked by tracking the behavior of the pupil in response to light. This tests how the individual pupil responds to light, and it ensures that both pupils respond to light in tandem.
5) Extraocular muscle motility is demonstrated by having the patient follow the motion of an object with his eyes. This ensures that the muscles related to eye movement, and the parts of the brain controlling those muscles, are functioning correctly.
6) Perimetry tests measure the patient’s visual field and peripheral vision. Loss of peripheral vision is often an early sign of glaucoma.
7) Ophthalmoscopy checks the health of the retina by dilating the pupil with special drops and viewing the back of the eye with a special light. This helps detect conditions such as retinal detachment, optic nerve swelling, damaged blood vessels in the retina from high blood pressure or diabetes, cataracts and other problems.
8) Colorblindness testing includes an Ishihara exam where a patient reviews images to confirm the ability to differentiate between different colors.
9) Tonometer testing checks for increased intraocular pressure, a symptom of glaucoma. Once the eye has been numbed, an applanation tonometer machine barely touches the surface of the eye and measures the pressure of the fluid within the eye.
Ask your primary medical care provider to recommend a qualified eye care professional for your annual exam. You can also use the American Optometric Association’s locator tool to find an optometrist in your area.