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
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
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.
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.