Regular eye exams are an invaluable tool in maintaining eye health by detecting and preventing disease. Some diseases, such as glaucoma, develop gradually without causing pain or vision loss, so patients may not notice that anything is wrong until significant and irreversible damage has been done. Early detection of eye diseases can allow for a choice of treatment options and reduced risk of permanent damage.
Who should get an eye exam?
Patients should see their doctor for a comprehensive eye exam every one to three years, depending on their age, risk of disease and overall physical condition. Children should have regular tests to ensure the proper development of their vision and prevent any interference with their academic achievements. Older adults are often at a higher risk for eye conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. Even if your eyes are healthy, you should still have a regular eye exam to detect any problems as soon as possible and begin necessary treatment.
What happens during an eye exam
An eye exam is different from a vision screening, which only tests vision and is commonly performed by a school nurse, pediatrician or other health care provider. Only your eye doctor can perform a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate the overall health of the eye and detect any changes that may indicate a vision disorder. During a routine eye exam, your doctor will evaluate your eyes for refractive errors, as well as common conditions such as:
- Diabetic eye disease
This is done through a series of eye tests that examine all aspects of the eye, including a visual field test, dilation, glaucoma test, slit-lamp examination, cover test, retinoscopy and refraction. These tests can all be performed in your doctor’s office and are safe for all patients.
After completing the comprehensive exam and coming to an accurate diagnosis, your doctor will develop a treatment plan based on the findings of the exam. This treatment plan usually includes a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses, medication, vision therapy, eye vitamins, vision supplements or surgery for serious conditions.