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Whether you are an existing wearer of prescription eyewear or contact lenses, or registered with an eye doctor or not, it is still recommended that people of all ages should have a comprehensive eye exam every two years. Regular monitoring of the eyes is very important as even if you have perfect vision, a comprehensive eye exam also screens for any potential ocular health problems. If you are a glasses or contacts wearer, or if you do currently suffer from any eye condition, such as glaucoma or cataracts for example, your eye doctor may ask you to visit more frequently.
Many conditions that affect the eye do not manifest any symptoms until the damage is already done, so whilst it may not seem like the biggest priority in our ever-busy lives, regular checks of the eyes are essential for both excellent eye health and vision.
A comprehensive eye exam may vary slightly between practices and eye doctors, but there are some common elements that are universal across providers. Here’s what you need to know about what is usually included in a comprehensive eye exam.
Before even thinking about using any equipment, your eye doctor will ask you about your health in general. They will ask you about your vision, and whether you think it is clear, or if you have any concerns that affect the eyes including regular headaches, migraine, flashing lights, and disruption of color perception.
Your eye doctor will ask you a few questions about your general medical history too, such as any ongoing health conditions, and whether you take any regular prescription medications. This is important as many health conditions and medications can influence the eyes, so by having the most comprehensive information possible, they will know if there are any potential concerns.
This is the part of an eye exam that everyone is most familiar with, where your eye doctor will ask you to look at a chart (a Snellen chart to be precise) which displays various numbers and letters, to check how well you can see at different distances. By getting you to read from this chart, your eye doctor will know if you need to use prescription lenses to have optimum clarity of vision.
If it is established that you do need prescription lenses, a refraction assessment will be used for your eye doctor to assess which prescription is needed to correct your vision and ensure it’s as clear as it can be. To carry out this test, they will use either a retinoscope, which is a handheld instrument, or a computerised alternative. These instruments measure how light entering your eyes is refracted, and then they can ensure they prescribe the right lenses.
A slit lamp enables your eye doctor to look closely at the internal and external structures of the eyes. By having the ability to do this in greater detail, it can help them to detect conditions such as macular degeneration, conjunctivitis, cataracts and retinal detachment. Early detection of any issue is very important, as the sooner it is detected, and the quicker treatment begins, the better the outcome for the patient.
By using a piece of equipment called a tonometer, you eye doctor can detect the presence of glaucoma. A well-known cause of vision loss, glaucoma is a group of conditions caused by abnormally high intraocular pressure, which subsequently damages the optic nerve. For anyone highlighted as at increased risk of glaucoma, or with an increased level of intraocular pressure, tonometry testing should form part of any regular eye exam.
This particular exam enables your eye doctor to see through your pupils to check the structures in the back of the eye, most specifically the retina. To enable them to carry out this examination the pupils need to be dilated, which is done using special eye drops administered about half an hour before the exam. This exam can be used to detect conditions including glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal tears and even the presence of tumours.
While it’s a standard, routine procedure, this particular part of your comprehensive eye exam can cause blurred vision and sensitivity to light for a few hours, so it is recommended strongly, that you do not drive yourself home afterwards. Wearing sunglasses can help ease the sensitivity to light.
If you would like to book an appointment for your comprehensive eye exam or have any questions, call Federal Hill Eye Care at (410) 752-8208 to reach our office in Baltimore, Maryland.