It’s important for everyone to have regular eye checkups starting from childhood. Not only does this ensure that your vision is one hundred percent, but it is also vitally important in catching diseases early, giving you the best chance for treatment. An eye exam doesn’t have to be anything to worry about and your eye doctor should be doing what they can to make you feel relaxed and comfortable. You can count on a professional and friendly approach from the eye doctors at Northside Eyecare in Evansville, IN.
The Importance of Eye Exams
Healthy vision is an integral part of our lives, and it starts with regular eye exams. From early detection of ocular diseases to maintaining accurate prescriptions, regular comprehensive eye exams from a licensed eye doctor are the cornerstone for optical health.
There is a common misconception that vision screenings are the same as eye exams. However, screenings are often performed by non-certified volunteers or other non-eye care professionals. Also, vision screenings are regularly limited to visual acuity tests and identifying major vision problems in a quick and low-cost manner.
Comprehensive eye exams are vastly more effective at detecting subtler vision problems and potentially sight-robbing eye disease. Performed by licensed eye doctors (optometrists or ophthalmologists), eye exams evaluate the complete health of your eyes and check for early signs of serious eye problems like macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and detached retinas. An eye doctor can also detect non-eye related diseases like high blood pressure, stroke risk, and diabetes based on the state of delicate blood vessels and other internal and external eye structures.
Eye Exams Benefit All Ages
While we often become more conscious of vision concerns with age, it is important to remember that good eye health is a marathon and not a sprint. According to the American Optometric Association, 20% of preschoolers have vision problems. Other research shows that 24% of adolescents with correctable refractive errors (astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness) don’t have their vision fully corrected with up-to-date prescriptions.
While technology has many benefits, the rise of digital devices has drastically increased the average time we spend looking at a screen. Children’s use of computers and other devices now starts at younger ages than ever before. Modern devices’ illuminated screens are more visually demanding than printed text, and recent studies have shown links between digital screen usage and the development of myopia (nearsightedness), especially in children.
Regular eye exams can help identify ocular strain and plan out potential courses of action and treatment.
Dangerously, many older adults forgo routine eye exams for free vision screenings. Debilitating conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy require a comprehensive eye exam to detect, and can only be prevented or reduced if diagnosed and treated early. Annual eye exams are one of the best ways to preserve your vision and see the world as clearly as possible.
What Tests to Expect
There are a number of different eye tests which are routinely carried out during an eye exam, and extra tests may be added according to family history and your own medical situation. Before you go to your appointment, try to find out about your family’s eye history, be prepared to talk about any medication which you may be taking, and make a list of any questions that you may have.
A few of the routine tests include:
- Eye muscle movement test – You will be asked to visually track a moving item to check your eyes’ alignment. This also helps identify mechanical restrictions, eye muscle issues, involuntary shaking of the eyes, and other potentially harmful conditions.
- Cover test – This test checks how well your eyes work together. The doctor will cover one eye while you stare at a target some distance away, and as they cover and uncover the eyes, they can see how your eyes react.
- External exam and pupils – The doctor will check the outside of your eye and how your pupils react to light changes. This helps to identify nerve issues, existing damage, and other conditions affecting your eye and vision.
- Vision test – You will sit a distance away from a chart with letters gradually getting smaller in size, line by line. This is called a Snellen chart, but most people know it as the “Big E” chart. You will be asked to read the letters line by line until you can’t read them anymore. This test is repeated with both eyes.
- Retinoscopy – The doctor with either have a machine to perform this test or will shine a light into your eye while you focus on a target. It helps give them an idea of what lens prescription you will need if you will need to wear glasses.
- Refraction Testing – Your eye doctor will likely use a machine called a phoropter to help determine your correct prescription. The machine goes in front of your eyes, and you will look through the lenses at a chart on the wall while the doctor switches between different lens options. Your eye doctor will ask questions like “Which is clearer, one or two?” as he or she adjusts the lenses based on your answers. The process continues until you can see clearly, which will tell the eye doctor what your new prescription is.
- Slit lamp – A slit lamp lights up and magnifies the front of the eye and is used to detect a number of diseases such as those affecting the cornea, iris, lens and anterior chamber.
- Retinal Examination – A retinal examination requires dilating your pupils. Once the pupils are dilated, the eye doctor will shine a light into your eye to examine the state of the back of your eye – the retina, retinal vessels and the top of the optic nerve – to check for any problems.
- Glaucoma testing – There are a few different ways your eye doctor can test for glaucoma. Some eye doctors will numb your eye and then use an instrument to measure the pressure. Other methods include using a machine to send a small puff of air into your eye to be able to measure its pressure.
You may find that other tests are carried out, but the tests listed above are the most common tests you’ll encounter during your eye exam. If you live in or around the Evansville area, come see our excellent staff at Northside Eye Care, and we will walk you through the tests and help you with any questions you may have.