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What to Expect

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Eye Exams: What to Expect

Eye examinations are a vital part of preventative care that can detect vision problems while they are still in their earliest stages. By scheduling regular eye exams with a certified eye care specialist, you give yourself the best chance of avoiding eye problems and costly treatments in the future. During these exams, your eyecare specialist can also give you helpful tips on how to care for your eyes and reduce unnecessary strain.

The eye examination itself is a painless series of tests that are designed to make sure your eyes are functioning normally and free from diseases. Although the instruments and optometric technology used during these tests may be intimidating at first glance, the process itself is quick and pain-free.

Your optometrist or ophthalmologist, may begin the examination by asking you a series of questions related to your medical history and any vision issues you are currently experiencing. Once the necessary background information has been considered, tests are administered to evaluate things like eye muscle control, visual acuity, overall eye health, and more.

Eye Muscle Test

One of the common aspects of eye examinations is the eye muscle test. This test is performed to identify any extraocular muscle weaknesses which may result in uncontrolled eye movements. The test itself involves moving your eyes in six different directions, often following an object such as your doctor’s pen, while the movements of these muscles are observed.

Visual Acuity Test

The visual acuity test is the aspect of eye examinations that people are usually most familiar with. The point of the test is to determine how well you can see from a distance, and involves simply reading various size letters off of an eye chart positioned 20 feet away. Your eye care specialist will have you read these letters with one eye closed or covered to determine the strength of vision in each eye.

Refraction Assessment

A refraction assessment test will only be administered if you require corrective lenses. If you fall into this category, your doctor will use this test to see how your cornea and lens bend light waves as they enter your eye. These measurements will allow the doctor to find the best prescription for your corrective lenses.

Refraction assessments may be measured with a digital refractor, or your doctor may use a technique known as retinoscopy. Once the initial measurements are obtained, they are fine-tuned by a machine called a Phoroptor. Your doctor will have you look into this machine and pick the lens that gives you the clearest, sharpest vision.

Visual Field Tests

In order to evaluate the strength and acuity of your peripheral vision, your doctor may include simple visual field tests into your examination. By measuring when you can observe certain objects moving into or out of your field of vision, the doctor creates a visual field map that can help diagnose any potential problems.

Slit-lamp tests

To get a better view of the structures of your eye, your specialist may administer a slit-lamp examination. This test uses a bright line of light to illuminate the front of your eye, allowing your doctor to exam your cornea, iris, lens, and anterior chamber for cuts, scrapes, or infections. Your doctor may use a special dye called fluorescein during this process, which temporarily turns the tears a light yellow color to allow for a sharper contrast and easier examination. Your eyes’ natural tears will wash the dye away after the slit-lamp test is finished.

Glaucoma test (tonometry)

Glaucoma is an eye disease that can cause the pressure inside your eyes elevate. In order to test for this potentially blinding disease, your certified eye care specialist may use tonometry to measure the intraocular pressure of your eyes. There are a few different ways to perform this test: applanation tonometry measures the amount of force needed to depress your cornea; non-contact tonometry sends a small puff of air into your open eyes to test their pressure; pachymetry uses ultrasound waves to measure the thickness of your cornea.

More specialized tests may be required depending on your age, medical history, and hereditary predispositions.

Ophthalmoscopy

This part of the exam is performed to observe your retina, optic disc, and choroid. In order to examine these structures, which are located in the back of your eye, your doctor may give you special eyedrops which force your pupils to dilate. Once your pupils widen, your doctor can look into your eyes using special lenses and lights.  Although the test itself won’t take any longer than 10 minutes, the effects of the eyedrops won’t wear off for a few hours. This means you may have trouble focusing your eyes, and blurry vision might make it difficult for you to drive or go to work. Make sure you have a ride home from the doctor if a dilation is planned.

These tests make up the core of most eye examinations. The important thing is to simply educate yourself and know how to prepare for your eye examinations to ensure they go as smoothly, quickly, and painlessly as possible. You’ll thank yourself for taking this valuable preventative measure, which can identify eye problems and get you on the path to effective treatment before conditions worsen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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