Having your eyes examined regularly is important for your vision health. Eye exams utilize various types of tests in order to evaluate your vision and to look for possible diseases. Each of these tests will examine different facets of your vision, including:
- Visual acuity
- Side vision
- Eye movement & pressure
- Front of the eye, optic nerve and retina
Many times there are no signs or symptoms for vision or eye problems so it’s possible that there is a problem without you knowing it. Having your vision examined by a professional will aid in the early diagnosis of issues that can be prevented or treated at early onset.
What tests are performed?
As with all medical exams, upon arrival, you'll need to provide your medical history and any issues you may be experiencing. You will then have various tests performed, the most common tests that an eye professional will give you at your exam will include:
- Measuring your visual acuity: this is the series of tests to evaluate the need for glasses or contacts to aid in improving your vision.
- Eye pressure test: the doctor or assistant will put numbing drops in your eyes and your eye pressure will be measured.
- General eye health: after giving you drops to dilate your eyes, your doctor will evaluate the front and inside of your eyes using various lights.
After all of the tests are performed, your doctor will go over what he or she found during the eye exam and answer any questions you may have.
How Often Should I be examined?
It is recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology that you get a baseline exam at the age of 40. This is when early signs of changes in vision or possible diseases could occur. However, if you are considered a risk factor you should have your eyes examined sooner.
Your ophthalmologist will be able to tell you how often you should have your eyes examined after that point. It’s important to stay on top of your vision, because your risk for eye disease increases as you age.
Who Should Have Eye Exams?
Everyone should have their vision examined, but how often depends on your age. Children between the ages of three and five years old should have their vision checked for the first time. Children should have their eyes examined upon entering first grade and then every one to two years after.
Adults should have a baseline exam done at age 40, but earlier if any vision issues or symptoms arise. They should then be examined every two to five years or more frequently if you wear glasses, contacts or have been diagnosed with a chronic disease.
What You Can Learn From an Exam
You can find out things about your health that you may not know, that’s because your eye exams can reveal diseases you didn’t even know you had. Such diseases include:
- Carotid artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Multiple Sclerosis
It’s important to pay attention to signs that your body gives you including; red, dry or itchy eyes; difficulty driving at night; eye strain; trouble adjusting your focus (such as from computer to print); squinting to read smaller print and dizziness. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your eye professional.
When Might Surgery be Necessary?
Glasses and contacts can be a bother for those who need to wear them in order to see properly. Surgery is an option for many vision issues and with the advancements made in laser surgery, more and more people are turning to surgery to free themselves from glasses and contacts.
These advancements provide several types of vision corrective surgery, often referred to as laser surgery or refractive surgery. Some of these surgeries will correct problems including near or farsightedness or astigmatisms.
Types of Surgery
Surgery of the eye, or ocular surgery, is a procedure performed on the eye or any of its accessory structures like the eyelids, brows, orbit, etc. An ophthalmologist performs such surgeries using local anesthesia, topical anesthesia or general anesthesia when performed on kids and the elderly.
Many surgeries can be performed to correct and repair issues, some of the common surgeries performed include:
- Cataract surgery: which removes the defective lens and replace it with an intraocular lens? This surgery will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes and the patient is usually under local anesthesia.
- Glaucoma: the most common surgery performed for glaucoma is called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). SLT uses short bursts of low energy laser light targeted at cells to assist drainage of fluids from the eye.
- Refractive eye surgery: there are a few different types of refractive eye surgeries that can be performed, depending on your condition. All of the procedures performed are used to reshape the cornea with laser technology.
- Cornea transplant: in this procedure the cornea is replaced with a donor cornea
- Eye muscle surgeries: used to correct misaligned eyes due to issues with the muscles of the eyes. It is performed by adjusting the muscle position or tightness.
- Orbital and Oculoplastic: these surgeries are performed to correct issues with the eyelids, the socket, the tear system and the orbit which can affect the normal function of the eye.
If you are experiencing any vision-related issues, you should contact an eye professional for an exam and consultation.