What to Expect During an Eye Exam

At the Optician

Why are regular eye examinations important? Firstly, they help our Laser Eye Center doctors catch eye problems in their earliest stage when they are easily treatable. Also, eye exams give our doctors the opportunity to adjust your prescription (if you already wear glasses or contacts) and are a good time to discuss helpful tips for eye care.

How Often Should I Have My Eyes Checked?

This depends on several factors, including your age, health status and risk of developing an eye disease/disorder.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease have a baseline eye disease screening at the age of 40 — this is the age at which signs of disease and visual changes start to crop up. If you have an eye disease or a risk factor for eye disease (e.g., diabetes, family history of eye disease) at any age, the AAO recommends you see an ophthalmologist regularly.

Based on the results of your exam, the doctor will advise how often to have your eyes checked. If you are 65 or older, you should have your eyes checked every year, or every other year, for signs of age-related eye diseases (e.g., cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration).

What an Eye Exam Includes

Expect your eye exam to last between 45 and 90 minutes. During your exam, the doctor will do the following:

Review Your Medical History

You will be asked questions about your vision, overall physical health and any medications that you take or corrective lenses that you wear. The doctor may also inquire about your family’s medical history.

Test Your Visual Acuity

You will be asked to read a standard eye chart that tests how well you see at different distances (near and far). Your eyes will be tested one at a time, and you will be asked to cover the eye not being tested.

Examine Your Pupils

The doctor will shine a bright light through your pupils to evaluate how they respond to light. It’s common for your pupils to respond by constricting; if they dilate or do not respond, this could indicate a problem.

Watch Your Eye Movement

The doctor wants to ensure proper eye alignment and ocular muscle function. He will test your eye’s ability to move quickly in all directions and slowly track objects.

Test Your Side Vision

The doctor will move an object at the edge of your field of vision and ask whether you can see it. Loss of peripheral vision could be an indicator of glaucoma.

Screen for Glaucoma

The doctor will measure your intraocular pressure (i.e., the fluid pressure inside your eyes) to detect possible glaucoma. Depending on the preferred method, this may involve a quick puff of air onto the eye or the gentle application of a pressure-sensitive instrument near or against your eye (while it is numbed). This is not painful; in fact, you won’t feel anything.

Check Your Prescription for Corrective Lenses

The doctor will ask you to look at an eye chart through a device called a phoroptor, which has different lenses. You will be asked to identify the lenses through which you see most clearly. This will help the doctor determine the best prescription for your eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct any refractive errors causing nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.

Look at the Front of Your Eye

A microscope-like instrument called a slit lamp will be used to illuminate the front part of your eye, including your eyelids, cornea, iris and lens, and check for potential problems (e.g., cataracts). A fluorescein dye may be used to color the film of tears over your eyes and check for any damaged cells.

Look at the Back of Your Eye

Special drops will be placed in your eye to dilate your pupils; then, the doctor will examine your retina and optic nerve for any signs of damage. Please note that dilating your eyes may cause temporary sensitivity to light.

After performing these tests, the doctor will discuss the results of the eye exam with you, and give you the opportunity to ask questions about the findings and anything else you’re curious about.

To schedule your next eye exam, please contact Laser Eye Center by calling 800-80-LASER or sending us an email.

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