What are all those tests for, anyway?
Comprehensive eye exams...sounds pretty intense. But we are here to assure you that an eye exam doesn’t have to be intimidating. They are actually quite simple and pretty straight forward! This month we will be breaking down the steps to an eye exam so you have every ounce of confidence to book your appointment.
First order of business...what is the difference between a vision screening and a comprehensive eye exam? Put simply a screening looks briefly for any potential of vision problems and eye disorders. A comprehensive exam actually diagnoses visual health issues which is why an exam is so important to get annually. While a screening can give you a general overview of how well you see, it cannot tell you specifics about your eye health.
So now that we know exams are important, what can we expect from an annual exam?
Typically a doctor or assistant will start you off in a room with a couple diagnostic instruments (sounds scary we know). Here are ones that we use:
Auto-Refractor: This instrument that you look into, usually at a picture of a hot air balloon or barn, measures the length and curvature of your eye. While the instrument takes the picture in and out of focus, it calculates a starting point for your glasses prescription. You sit and look at a picture, pretty simple huh?
Retinal Camera: This instrument takes a picture of the inside of your eye! Pretty cool! All you do is focus on a green X for a few seconds. Once you’re focused the instrument takes a picture. Although the flash is pretty bright, it doesn’t hurt and it’s not scary. Plus, then you have a truly awesome picture of your eye which allows the doctor to better assess your eye health and track for changes over time.
Eye Pressure: This is the eye puff machine that everyone hates. Best part is we DO NOT use this!! We use something called the iCare tonometer that basically tickles your eyelashes. Way better than a puff of air in your eye, and more accurate. We check your eye pressure yearly to ensure you aren’t developing signs of glaucoma, which is a condition that has no symptoms but can lead to blindness of left undetected.
Once you’re done with the first room you’ll be shown into the exam room. Here are some things you’ll do during this part of the exam:
Cover Test: Your doctor will have you focus on a target while she uses a cover paddle, which looks like a giant spoon, to cover and uncover your eyes. By watching how your eyes naturally move, the doctor can determine eye alignment and eye teaming skills.
Phoropter: “which is better, 1 or 2?” This is the part everyone knows where the doctor gets a subjective measurement of the glasses prescription which includes testing vision at a distance and up close. Don’t worry about giving the wrong answers because we check and double check to make sure we guide you to giving us an accurate result.
Slit Lamp Exam: This is where the doctor shines a light to see the health of the front of your eyes. This looks at allergies, dryness, cataracts, and more.
Fundus Exam: This is another look at the internal structures of your eyes. While this can be done without dilation, the eye drops that make your pupils bigger allow the doctor to see a much wider view of the inside of your eye. She looks for things like glaucoma, macular degeneration, vascular problems, and sight-threatening conditions like retinal holes or tears.
Contact Lens Evaluation: The doctor will measure the shape of the eye and evaluate the corneal health to ensure a comfortable, healthy fitting contact lens experience. Contacts come in hundreds of shapes and sizes and they are not one size fits all! It is important to have your corneal health checked every year to make sure you’re in the best lens for your lifestyle to ensure you can continue to wear lenses comfortably for many years to come.
We know that there’s a lot of information here...if you have any additional questions we are here for you! And, as you can tell, eye examinations are super important and honestly a breeze to do! With the many measurements, diagnostics, and determining prescriptions it’s an easy decision to book your appointment and make sure your eyes are in good health!