To ensure your eyes stay in the best shape possible, it’s important you get them checked on a regular basis. This will help determine if you need vision correction or if you have a more serious eye condition.
Some people get nervous about having their eyes checked. They may even skip their regular exam because they feel uncomfortable.
The truth is, these exams are relatively painless and easy. Your optometrist will conduct a series of tests using different equipment and techniques designed to get an overview of your ocular health.
If you have an upcoming appointment and are wondering what to expect at an eye exam, keep reading. We’re going over several different eye tests and why they’re important.
A Few Questions to Begin With
Before your doctor begins the tests, they’ll need to gather some information. These questions are especially important if you’re a new patient.
First, they’ll want to know if you’re experiencing any problems with your eyes. They’ll also want to know if you’ve had issues in the past.
Your doctor will ask if you wear contacts or glasses. If you wear glasses, make sure you bring them with you to your visit.
Like a general physician, an optometrist needs to know about your medical history. They’ll ask if you’ve ever had surgery performed on your eyes. There’s also a chance they’ll ask about a history of eye problems in your family.
Make sure you provide your eye doctor with as much information as possible. Preexisting or genetic conditions may make it easier for them to spot current problems.
Testing the Movement of Your Eyes
This is also called an ocular motility test. It’s performed in order to test how well your eyes move.
If there are issues with the way your eyes move, it could lead to eye strain. This could affect your ability to read properly or perform other activities that require eye movement.
During this test, your doctor will ask you to keep your head still. You’ll then need to follow a moving object with your eyes. They’ll either use a light or other small target.
Your doctor may also want to test whether your eyes can move quickly. In this case, they’ll ask you to keep your head still while moving your eyes back and forth between two objects in different locations.
This is probably one of the most recognized eye tests you’ll have done. A visual acuity exam helps your doctor determine how clearly you’re able to see.
During this test, your doctor will ask you to read letters from a chart located across the room. This is called a Snellen chart.
As you move from the top to the bottom of the chart, the letters get smaller. Your doctor can determine the clarity of your vision based on how far down the chart you can read. Each eye will get tested separately.
Your doctor can also test for nearsightedness by using a small, hand-held card in conjunction with the larger chart.
Assessing Your Field of Vision
Your field of vision refers to the total area you can see without having to move your eyes. This test determines if you have difficulty seeing in certain areas within your field of vision.
Your doctor can use a number of different techniques to administer this test.
They may have you look at a screen that will display a digital light. They’ll ask you to tell them precisely when you start seeing the light and when it disappears.
Your doctor can also manually perform the test. They’ll simply sit in front of you while you cover one eye. Then, they’ll slowly move one of their hands into your field of vision and ask you to tell them when you can see their hand.
The Slit Lamp Test
In order to determine if you have any type of eye condition, your doctor will need to conduct the slit lamp test. This allows them to examine the iris, lens, cornea, and back of the eye.
A slit lamp is a type of microscope that works by illuminating your eye so your doctor can get a magnified view. This allows them to properly see every component of your eye.
They’ll ask you to sit in front of the slit lamp and place your chin on a holder, which ensures your head stays still. They can then look through the lamp to view your eye.
They may also apply a dye that allows them to pinpoint any damaged cells. Don’t worry, the dye washes away naturally and the procedure is painless.
The slit lamp test is important, as it can help your doctor spot conditions such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts.
A Retinal Exam
During this test, your doctor will examine the retina along with the blood vessels that support it. They’re looking for any damage or traces of conditions such as macular degeneration.
During this test, your doctor will need to dilate your pupils. They’ll do this with the use of eye drops.
Once your pupils are dilated, your doctor can perform the test in one of two ways. A direct exam involves an ophthalmoscope which shines light into your pupil and allows your doctor to view the retina.
They may also perform an indirect exam, during which they use a condensing lens and bright light to get a three dimensional perspective of your retina.
A Refraction Test
If you need glasses, or simply need to determine if your prescription has changed, your doctor will perform a refraction test.
During this test, your doctor will place an instrument called a phoropter in front of your face. As you look through it, they’ll switch between a series of lenses.
They’ll ask you to tell them which lenses look clearer. By process of elimination, they’ll find the prescription that works best for you.
Know What to Expect at an Eye Exam
Having a simple eye exam every year helps keep your prescription up to date and also allows a doctor to spot eye conditions. Early detection makes the treatment process easier, so make sure you don’t skip your yearly exam.
Now that you know what to expect at an eye exam, you can go in prepared and have the peace of mind that the process is quick and easy.
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