Preventative Eye Exams
Keeping up with regular eye exams is important to ensuring your overall health and wellness. Eye diseases are best caught as soon as possible to allow for early intervention and treatment and prevent loss of vision.
During preventative eye exams, you eye doctor will look for vision problems and issues such as glaucoma and cataracts, as well as other serious medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer.
When should you consider getting an eye exam?
Preventative eye exams are helpful in identifying potential issues from childhood through adulthood.
Vision Screening for Children
Children’s eyes grow and change from birth through the teen years, so they should be screened by an eye doctor or pediatrician on an ongoing basis. They will be referred to an ophthalmologist if they need further attention.
Preventative Exams for Adults
Even if your eyes are healthy, you should have a preventative eye exam by an ophthalmologist at least once while you are in your 20s and two times in your 30s. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of eye disease, you should consider getting more frequent exams. Also, if you wear contact lenses, you should see an eye specialist annually.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults should get a complete eye exam at the age of 40, as this is when changes in vision or early signs of disease can appear. Following the initial baseline exam, your ophthalmologist will advise you on how frequently you should have your eyes checked moving forward.
Once you turn 65, preventative eye exams should take place every 1-2 years, as serious vision-limiting eye conditions can become more prevalent. Your ophthalmologist can check for cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma, among other eye conditions.
For patents of all ages, it is important to follow the schedule your ophthalmologist sets for exams, as early treatment is critical to prevent some common eye diseases from causing permanent vision loss or blindness.
If, between regular eye exams, you experience an infection, injury or eye pain, or you notice sudden floaters and flashes or patterns of light, you should contact your ophthalmologist right away.
What do ophthalmologists check during an eye exam?
During a preventative eye exam, your ophthalmologist will make sure you are comfortable throughout the visit. It typically takes about 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
During the exam, your ophthalmologist will test visual acuity (sharpness), depth perception, eye alignment and eye movement. Eye drops are used to make your pupils larger so your eye doctor can see inside your eyes and check for signs of health problems.
The exam will include the following screenings and tests:
Discussion of Medical History
Your doctor will talk with you about your vision and any close family members who may have eye conditions such as glaucoma.
This portion of the exam tests how well you see at various distances. You will read an eye chart while covering one eye (then the other). This will test whether you have 20/20 vision, or if you may need corrective lenses.
If you already where corrective lenses, or need them, you will be asked to look through a phoroptor, which is a device that contains different lenses, to help determine the best lens prescription for you.
Your ophthalmologist will evaluate the movement of your eyes with a test called ocular motility. The doctor will check to make sure your eye muscles are working properly and that they your eyes are aligned.
Your ophthalmologist will likely shine a bright beam of light into your eye to check how your pupils respond to light. Pupils should get smaller with bright light; if they don’t respond to the bright beam of light, it could signal an underlying issue.
Loss of side vision, or peripheral vision, can be a symptom of glaucoma. Sometimes you can lose side vision without realizing it.
The pressure within your eye, called intraocular eye pressure or (IOP), will be assessed with a tonometry test. Typically, the test involves a quick puff of air into the eye. Your ophthalmologist may also gently apply a pressure-sensitive tip near or against the eye. To ensure comfort, your ophthalmologist can use numbing eye drops. A test that shows elevated eye pressure can indicate glaucoma.
Front of Eye
Your ophthalmologist will use a device called a slit-lamp microscope to illuminate the cornea, iris and lens. The doctor can check for any cataracts on the lens, or scars or scratches on your cornea.
Retina and Optic Nerve
Your ophthalmologist will use eye drops to dilate your eyes, or widen the pupil, to view the retina and optic nerve for any signs of eye disease. Your eyes will likely be sensitive to light for a few hours after this test.
Based on your specific needs and medical history, your doctor may also recommend further specialized imaging tests that can help detect problems inside the eye or on the eye’s surface. These specialized tests include:
- Optical coherence tomography
- Fundus photos
- Fluorescein angiography (FA)
- Automated visual field test
Call us today at Union Square Eye Care to set up a preventative eye exam to ensure your eye health and continued wellness.