Why is an Eye Exam so Important?
Many of us believe that if we can see well, we don’t need to visit an eye doctor. While good vision is clearly important, an eye exam does more than just test your vision. In fact, your eyes can be portals that offer a glimpse of your overall health. In fact, many diseases show early signs in the eyes, including cardiovascular health and diabetes. So a comprehensive eye exam can help you at any age:
- Vision and learning are closely linked. Children don’t know what ‘normal’ vision is like, so they may not know to complain. Children’s eyes change rapidly as they grow, so eye care is important.
- Around the age 40, most of us have difficulty reading due to Presbyopia. A natural part of the aging process, presbyopia makes it harder to read small print. Computer monitors become more challenging as well. While “drugstore readers” may help, your eye doctor offers a range of options to fit your lifestyle.
- Many eye diseases, including glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, have no symptoms in the early stages. If left untreated, the vision loss is usually irreversible. Seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis can protect your vision through early treatment.
A comprehensive eye exam, offered only by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, looks at both eye health as well as your vision. Your doctor will check for:
- Refractive error: nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatism
- Focusing problems, including presbyopia
- Other vision problems, such as strabismus, amblyopia or binocular vision
- Eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy
- Other diseases, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, can often be detected in an eye exam
While tests will vary based on your doctor and your medical history, most comprehensive eye exams include the following:
- Visual Acuity to assess the sharpness of your vision, usually using the “Big E” or Snellen chart.
- Visual fields test, to determine if you have blind spots or peripheral vision issues.
- Cover Test, which can identify strabismus or binocular vision problems.
- Retinoscopy, autorefractor or aberrometer, to approximate your eyeglass prescription.
- Refraction, to fine tune the final eyeglass prescription using a phoropter.
- Slit Lamp exam to detect common eye diseases and conditions. The instrument allows your doctor to examine the structure of your eye to assess its health.
- Glaucoma test, known as tonometry, measures the pressure within your eye.
- Dilation of the pupil and ophthalmoscopy to examine the optic nerve, retina and blood vessels.