Saving Your Sight with Regular Eye Exams
Having regular eye examinations is essential to optimal eye health because it allows your local eye doctor to identify and treat vision problems as well as other signs of eye health issues in a timely manner. However, a routine eye exam is different from a primary care or dental checkup. If you haven’t seen an eye care practitioner in a long time, your first exam might feel a bit overwhelming. Here is some information on the different types of eye exams you might experience to help prepare you for your appointment.
During the cover test, your eyes will be covered one at a time as you try to focus on a distant object. Your local eye doctor will observe the way your eyes move as you focus, allowing them to identify eye turn. This test is important because eye turn can result in poor depth perception, a lazy eye, and other unwanted conditions.
Color vision testing
The color test is a simple test in which you will be asked to look at numbers made up of colored dots against a background of a different color. If your color vision is normal, you will be able to distinguish the numbers easily. People who have problems with color vision may perceive an incorrect number (for example, a “6” instead of a “5”) or they may not be able to see the number at all.
The slit-lamp is a type of microscope designed to give the eye doctor a better look at your eyelids, iris, cornea, conjunctiva, lens, retina and other structures. This test helps detect conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Glaucoma, a disease characterized by elevated pressure in the eye, does not always present symptoms. However, untreated, it can lead to vision loss, so early detection is vital. Several different tests can diagnose glaucoma, including:
- Tonometry – measures the pressure in your eye using a painless puff of air.
- Ophthalmoscopy – examines the inside of the eyes using dilation of the pupils.
- Gonioscopy – measures the angle of where the iris meets the cornea using a mirrored device.
- Visual field – involves staring at a light in the center of your visual field to assess your peripheral vision.
- Nerve fiber analysis – measures the thickness of the nerve fiber; particularly helpful in people already diagnosed with glaucoma as it can reveal if the disease is worsening.
- Pachymetry – measures the thickness of the cornea, a key indicator of pressure in the eye.
Your eye doctor will likely want to dilate your pupils as part of your regular eye exam. Pupil dilation allows the doctor to see the back of the eye, including blood vessels, the retina, and the optic nerve. To dilate your pupils, your eye doctor will administer a painless medicinal eye drops that keep your pupils open wide even in bright light. This exam takes about 20 to 30 minutes, and you may experience light sensitivity and blurry vision for a few hours afterward. You will need to have someone drive you home after your exam; also, be sure to bring along a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes until your pupils return to normal. Disposable sunglasses are always available at the office in case you forget yours.
Feel free to contact us to schedule an appointment or if you have any questions about the types of eye exams you might need.