What happens in an eye examination
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An eye exam is a series of tests done by the ophthalmologist or an optometrist, to check your eye health. They will decide the number of tests needed depending on your eye condition. However, a thorough test will require checking of all the important parts of the eye. They will then advise whether you need glasses, eye surgery or any other treatment.

The American Ophthalmology Association recommends periodic checking of your eyes since many eye disorders have no clear symptoms. Eye checking should be at least once a year between the ages 20 to 29, twice a year between the ages 30 and 40. For people over 40 they recommend eye examination once every two years and for people over 60 years an annual examination. This is recommended for people with normal good health.

In case, you have special diseases like diabetes, eye examinations may be more frequent regardless of your age. Such would also be the case if you have risk factors for glaucoma, such as, family history of the disease or an Afro-American descent. It is recommended that people with such risk factors see their eye doctor at least once in two years between the ages 30 and 64.

Benefits of eye examination

Regular eye exams are vital to maintain good eye health even if you are wearing glasses. Eye examination allows the doctor to find out if your vision needs further correction. It also allows him to examine your eye for any other diseases, which, in the absence of timely treatment, may cause severe problems and may even lead to permanent blindness.

When else should you have an eye exam?

You should see your doctor as soon as possible if you have vision problems, eye pains, red eyes, blind spots, headaches, visions of flashes of light and floating objects or any other eye or eyelid problem.

Preparation for the eye exam

There is nothing difficult about preparing for an eye exam. You just have to know the questions the doctor is likely to ask and be ready with the answers. These questions will mainly pertain to your vision and health history. If you wear glasses or contacts, remember to take them to the examination. In case you have vision problems, the doctor is likely to question you about the type of work that you do, whether you work a lot on the computer or whether you drive a lot. In case of health problem, which could affect the eyes, the doctor will ask about the medicines you are taking.

To be better informed about your problems, you should also prepare a list of questions for the doctor.

The eye exam

The doctor will initially ask you about your vision problems. If you use glasses, he will ask how long they are being used. If you are using contacts, he will ask about the cleaning solutions you are using.

The doctor will next check your eyes for near or far sightedness and astigmatism by firstly asking you to read the eye chart. Then he will use a special instrument to find out the power of the glasses or contacts you need for correcting your vision. He will also use this instrument to check your reading vision, focusing power and how well your eyes are generally functioning. If you are wearing contact lenses, the doctor will measure your eye shape.

The doctor will next attend to your eye health by using a special microscope, which can look inside the eyes. For this, he may dilate your pupils by using an eye drop. The dilation opens up the pupil enabling him to see as far as the retina. He will check for any signs of cataract. He will check the fluid pressure of the eye for glaucoma. He will also check for other serious eye problems like retinal detachment and macular degeneration. Symptoms of diabetes and high blood pressure can also be seen in the eye.

After the examination is over, he will prescribe glasses or contacts if you need them or treatment if you have any other eye problems. Normally, most basic eye examinations last 30 to 60 minutes.

Post-examination problems

If your pupils have been dilated, you will have to wait 4 to 6 hours for your eyes to become normal. Until then your near vision will be blurred and the eyes will remain extra sensitive to light. If contacts have been prescribed, you will have to revisit the doctor for proper fitting on the eye.

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