Comprehensive Eye Exam

Comprehensive Eye Exam

If you’ve had a vision screening recently, you might say, “My vision is fine! I don’t need a comprehensive eye exam.”

But a vision screening provides a limited perspective on the overall health of your eyes. It’s a bit like getting your blood pressure checked and not getting the rest of your annual physical. You’ll have useful information, but it’s not the whole picture.
 

What are the Limitations of a Vision Screening?

Vision screenings only test your ability to see clearly in the distance. This is called visual acuity and is just one factor in your overall vision. Others include color vision, peripheral vision, and depth perception. The screening also doesn’t evaluate how well the eyes focus up close or work together. Most importantly, it doesn’t give any information about the health of the eyes.
 

Vision screenings are conducted by individuals untrained in eye health.

Vision screenings are offered in many places – schools, health fairs, as part of a work physical or for a driver’s license. Even if your physician conducts the screening, he/she is a generalist and only has access to a certain amount of eye health training. Most individuals don’t have the tools or knowledge to give you a complete assessment of your vision or eye health.

Vision screenings use inadequate testing equipment.
In some cases, a vision screening is limited to an eye chart across the room. Even when conducted in a physician's office, they won’t have the extensive testing equipment of an eye doctor. They also won’t be aware of nuances such as room lighting and testing distances all of which are factors that can affect test results.
 

What are the Benefits of a Comprehensive Eye Exam?

Comprehensive eye exams evaluate all aspects of your vision and eye health.
The comprehensive eye exam looks at your eye externally and internally for any signs of eye disease, then tests your vision in a variety of ways.

  • External Exam – This is an evaluation of the whites of your eyes, the iris, pupil, eyelids, and eyelashes.

  • Internal Exam – This is an evaluation of the retina and optic nerve while your eyes are dilated.

  • Visual Function and Eye Health – This includes testing depth perception, color vision, peripheral vision, and the response of the pupils to light, as well as an evaluation of eye focusing, eye teaming, and eye movement abilities.

  • Glaucoma Testing – This is a test of fluid pressure within your eyes to check for the possibility of glaucoma.

  • Visual Acuity – Your doctor will test your vision with different lenses to determine if glasses or contact lenses can improve your vision.
     

Comprehensive eye exams look at your total health history.
Even though you visit a separate office for your eye health, that doesn’t mean your eyes shouldn’t be treated holistically. Your eye doctor will discuss your overall health and that of your immediate family, any medications you’re taking, and whether you have high blood pressure or diabetes. They’ll also want to know if you smoke and how much sun exposure you get. All these factors help the eye doctor properly assess your eye health.

The American Optometric Association recommends an eye exam every two years if you aren’t having any problems and you’re aged 18-60. After the age of 61, you should schedule a comprehensive exam annually or as recommended by your eye doctor.
 

Overview of Common Ocular Diseases

Both optometrists and ophthalmologists treat many common types of ocular disease. However, for the best outcome, it’s important to see an eye doctor regularly. They can identify any issues before they become serious problems.


Fortunately, they can treat all of the diseases mentioned below, and in some cases, you can do certain things to prevent them from developing. Look at the most recent statistics, and you’ll see why good eye health care matters.


Currently, more than 4.2 million people in the U.S. alone over the age of 40 are partially blind or have poor visual acuity. Although a lot of things cause these problems, the ocular diseases listed below are the most common.

 

Macular Degeneration

 

This is commonly referred to as “age-related macular degeneration” because it affects seniors. Not only does it cause blurriness and distortion but left untreated, individuals lose their central vision. In other words, they are unable to see anything through the center portion of the eye.


Two types of this ocular disease exist. First, wet macular degeneration means that abnormal blood vessels that are located behind the retina grow under the macular. Along with leaking blood and fluid, this leads to scarring and, sometimes, permanent damage. Second, dry macular degeneration progresses slowly as part of the natural aging process. Typically, it affects both eyes at some point.

 

Cataracts

 

Roughly 20 million people in the U.S. over the age of 40 have cataracts in either one or both eyes. While they can develop in children, teens, and young adults, cataracts are most often associated with age. With this, a film covers the eye, which, in turn, makes everything appear blurry.


Of all the different kinds of ocular diseases that lead to blindness worldwide, cataracts rank number two. Fortunately, an eye doctor can remove the damaged lens, followed by implanting an artificial one. After recovery, patients see amazingly well.

 

Diabetic Retinopathy

 

If you have diabetes, then you’re at risk of developing this ocular disease. This particular disease causes progressive damage to the retina’s blood vessels. The first stage consists of mild non-proliferative retinopathy and then moderate non-proliferative retinopathy, which blocks some of the vessels.


Then, it moves into stage three or severe non-proliferative retinopathy, which means more blood vessels become blocked. The fourth and final state, proliferative retinopathy, is the most advanced. Although Diabetic Retinopathy does affect just one eye on occasion, it typically involves both eyes.


Start by improving your overall health. Eat balanced meals, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels down, and take insulin. In addition, regular exercise, losing weight, and giving up smoking all make a huge difference. From there, a qualified eye doctor can provide you with treatment options to reduce the risk of losing your vision.

 

Glaucoma


Many people think glaucoma is one type of ocular disease. However, it’s a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. When that happens, people face the risk of losing their sight completely. With glaucoma, the fluid pressure inside the eyes gradually rises.


There are also two categories of glaucoma: open-angle and closed-angle. Not only is open-angle glaucoma chronic, but it also progresses slowly. Often, a person can have this type without knowing it. Unfortunately, they don’t realize there’s an issue until they have a comprehensive eye exam performed.


As for closed-angle glaucoma, it’s usually painful and it comes on suddenly. In addition, an individual can lose their vision much faster with this kind of glaucoma compared to the open-angle kind. Because this happens fast and involves pain, it’s diagnosed much quicker as well.


For these common types of ocular diseases, it’s important to have your vision checked. An eye doctor might simply diagnose you with myopia or hyperopia, followed by prescribing either eyeglasses or contact lenses. If an ocular disease is diagnosed, the optometrist will determine the best treatment plan for optimal eye health and vision.
 

Contact Lens Exam

If you’ve never worn contact lenses before, it can seem a bit intimidating. After all, you’re inserting something into your eye! Let’s ease your mind about the first step – your contact lens exam. This post will walk you through what’s involved in a contact lens exam and what you can expect every step of the way.
 

It Begins With A Comprehensive Eye Exam.

Your eye doctor will first determine your overall eye health and vision. This includes a discussion of your health history and then a series of standard eye tests. These tests will evaluate eye focusing, eye teaming, depth perception, color vision, peripheral vision, and the response of your pupils to light. The doctor will also measure your eye’s fluid pressure to check for glaucoma, evaluate your retina and optic nerve, and test your vision with different lenses to assess whether contact lenses can improve your vision.
 

Then, A Discussion About Your Contact Lens Preferences.

If contact lenses are appropriate for you, it’s time to talk about your contact lens preferences. For example, do you want to enhance or change your eye color? Would you prefer daily disposable lenses or overnight contacts? Ask about the benefits or drawbacks of each, so that you make the best decision. If you’re over 40, your doctor will likely discuss age-related vision changes and how contact lenses can address these issues.
 

Next, The Eye Doctor Will Conduct Eye Surface Measurements.

Contact lenses require precise measurements of your eyes to fit properly. Using an instrument called a keratometer, your doctor will measure the curvature of your eye's cornea, the clear front surface of your eye. Next, the size of your eyes pupil is measured using a card or ruler showing different pupil sizes which is held next to your eye to determine the best match.
 

You May Also Need A Tear Film Evaluation.

If you have dry eyes, your eye doctor will perform a tear film evaluation to measure the amount of tear film on the surface of your eye. If your tear film is insufficient or you have chronic dry eyes, contact lenses may not be a good option for you. However, some newer contact lenses deliver moisture to the surface of the eye, making them a better choice for individuals with dry eye issues.
 

It's Time For The Contact Lens Fitting.

The final step is to fit you with a trial pair of contact lenses. Once inserted, your eye doctor will examine the lenses in your eyes to ensure a good fit. He/she will check the alignment and movement of the lenses on the surface of your eye and if the fit looks good, the last step is to ensure the prescription is correct with a few more tests.
 

Now It’s Your Turn To Test It Out.

Your contact lens exam is over, but you’ll need to come back. Your doctor will usually have you wear the trial lenses for a week. After that, you’ll have a short follow-up exam to confirm that the lenses are working well for you and you can then order a supply of contact lenses. If this is your first contact lens exam, don’t worry. Choose a qualified optometrist and they’ll answer all your questions as you go. Just be sure to let them know you’re interested in contact lenses so that they know to allow for extra time in your appointment for the consultation and any specialized tests.