Eye exams are an essential component of overall wellness. During a comprehensive eye exam, your ophthalmologist will assess much more than your visual acuity. He or she will test for common eye diseases, assess how your eyes work together and evaluate the health of your retina, optic nerve and retinal blood vessels. Comprehensive eye exams actually offer an accurate indication of your overall health because ophthalmologists are often the first healthcare professionals to detect chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.
Should children get their eyes examined?
Routine eye examinations are important for healthy visual development. Because children do not know what “normal” vision looks like, they may not be aware of a developing eye problem. Good vision is closely linked to the learning process and is important for success in school and activities, so make yearly appointments for your children. If your child is struggling in school, make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam with an ophthalmologist who specializes in children’s vision.
How often should adults have a comprehensive eye exam?
As we age, yearly comprehensive eye exams continue to play an important role in healthy vision. Even a slight change in prescription can cause eye discomfort, headaches and other associated problems. Around the age of 40, most adults have difficulty reading due to presbyopia. A natural part of the aging process, presbyopia makes it harder to read small print on labels, computer monitors, books, and other printed material. While inexpensive “drugstore readers” may help, your ophthalmologist will provide a thorough examination of your vision and offer many corrective options that are customized to your specific needs.
What does a comprehensive eye exam include?
If it has been several years since your last exam, you may wonder what is involved in getting a comprehensive eye exam. While tests will vary based on your doctor and your medical history, most comprehensive eye exams include the following:
- Visual Acuity to assess the sharpness of your vision, usually using the “Big E” or Snellen chart.
- Visual fields test to determine if you have blind spots or peripheral vision issues.
- Cover Test, which can identify strabismus or binocular vision problems.
- Retinoscopy, autorefractor or aberrometer to approximate your eyeglass prescription.
- Refraction to fine tune the final eyeglass prescription using a phoropter.
- Slit Lamp exam to detect common eye diseases and conditions. This instrument allows your doctor to examine the structure of your eye to assess its health.
- Glaucoma test, known as tonometry, measures the pressure within your eye.
- Dilation of the pupil and ophthalmoscopy to examine the optic nerve, retina and blood vessels.
What are the best benefits of a comprehensive eye exam?
One of the greatest benefits of comprehensive eye exams is that you receive immediate feedback about your eye health. Your ophthalmologist will test for conditions such as:
- Refractive error: nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatism
- Focusing problems, including presbyopia
- Other vision problems, such as strabismus, amblyopia or binocular vision
If you have a refractive error or focusing problem, you can receive treatment immediately and be fit for eyeglasses or contact lenses. For other conditions, your ophthalmologist can discuss a treatment plan with you and provide you with helpful information so you can consider various options.
Possibly the best advantage of routine comprehensive eye exams is prevention. Nothing is as precious to you as your eyesight, and healthy vision requires regular maintenance. Neglecting preventative vision care can have lasting consequences when it comes to degenerative eye disease. Certain diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy have no symptoms in the early stages and can develop slowly and painlessly. If left untreated, the vision loss is usually irreversible. Seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis can protect your vision through early treatment. Another significant benefit of early diagnosis and early treatment is reduced medical cost. Identifying eye disease in the early stages will save you thousands of dollars in treatment and help preserve your vision as well as your quality of life.
Make healthy vision a priority in your life and in the lives of the ones you love. Contact one of our eye care centers to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, and renew your commitment to your eye health.