A comprehensive eye exam entails the use of a variety of tests to thoroughly examine your eyes. These tests range in complexity, but each one is designed to give your ophthalmologist or Lorton, VA, optometrist a closer look at the different aspects of your eyes, giving them a complete understanding of their current condition.
Depending on which tests your eye doctor performs, a comprehensive eye exam can take an hour or more. These tests can include:
Visual Acuity Tests
Among the first to be carried out in a comprehensive eye exam, visual acuity tests are in place to measure the sharpness of your vision. They’re usually done using a projected eye chart to test for visual acuity at a distance, while a small, hand-held chart is used to assess near vision.
Color Blindness Test
A screening test performed early in comprehensive eye exams, the color blindness test checks color vision to determine whether or not color blindness is present. Aside from identifying hereditary deficiencies in color vision, it can also alert your eye doctor about potential issues with your eye health that may have an effect on your color vision.
The cover test is the simplest and most common way of checking how your eyes work together. You’ll be asked to focus on a small object located across the room, covering each eye alternately while staring at the target. The test is then repeated with an object at a nearer distance.
The results of a cover test could indicate strabismus (a condition where one eye is able to focus on the target object while the other is misaligned inward, outward, upward or downward) or the presence of a more subtle form of a binocular vision problem that can lead to amblyopia (lazy eyes) or eye strain.
Eye Movement Testing
Eye movement or ocular motility testing determines how well your eyes are able to follow moving objects and quickly and accurately change `focus between two different targets. Problems stemming from issues with eye movement can lead to eye strain, which can affect sports vision, reading ability and other skills as well.
Depth Perception Test
Depth perception or stereopsis testing assesses the eyes’ ability to team up and work together, enabling normal depth perception and an appreciation for the 3-dimensional structure of objects.
Used to generate an approximation for eyeglass prescriptions, a retinoscopy is typically done early in an eye exam, giving eye doctors a “ballpark figure” to work with to help them narrow down your exact prescription. It’s simple and particularly useful for children and other patients who are unable to provide eye doctors with accurate answers.
To determine your exact prescription, your ophthalmologist or optometrist in Newington, VA, will use an instrument called a phoropter, providing you with a series of lens choices. You will then be asked to identify which of the choices appears the clearest to you. Depending on your answers, your eye doctor will fine-tune power on the lenses you’re viewing until reaching the perfect strength for you.
For faster, more accurate readings, your eye doctor may also use autorefractors and aberrometers.
Slit Lamp Exam
With a slit lamp, a binocular microscope, your eye doctor is able to examine the eyes’ interior structures under high magnification. This allows for easier detection of a wide range of eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, corneal ulcers, macular degeneration and cataracts.
A glaucoma test usually starts by measuring the pressure within the eyes. One of the most common glaucoma tests around is called non-contact tonometry, or the “puff-of-air” test. As its name suggests, a puff of air will be directed at your open eye. Your eyes’ level of resistance to the puff of air will be used to calculate intraocular pressure. High eye pressure puts you at risk of having glaucoma.
Another common glaucoma test entails the use of eye drops. Like the “puff-of-air” test, it is painless.
Pupil dilation is done to give your eye doctor a better view of your eyes’ internal structures. Dilating drops are used to enlarge your pupils and typically require 20 to 30 minutes to begin working. Depending on the strength of the dilating drops used, you may experience sensitivity to light and difficulty focusing on near objects for up to several hours, so it’s advised that you bring a pair of sunglasses to wear after the eye exam and have someone else drive for you.
Visual Field Test
To check for possible blind spots (scotomas), your eye doctor may also assess your “side” or peripheral vision with a visual field test. There are different types of visual field tests, including a confrontation exam, a tangent screen exam and automated perimetry. Your eye doctor may use one or more of these tests to determine the full scope of your field of vision.
Aside from helping ensure complete vision, a visual field test may help identify the presence of eye diseases like glaucoma, as well as specific areas damaged in the brain due to a stroke or tumor.
When to Have an Eye Exam
Several factors, including your age and risk of developing eye problems, can affect when you should come in for an eye exam. General guidelines, however, state that:
Children under the age of three should be checked for common eye problems, such as turned-out eyes, crossed eyes or lazy eye, while those between the ages of three and five can undergo more comprehensive eye exams.
- Children should be checked for vision issues before entering first grade. If no problems are found, school-age children and adolescents can receive regular eye checks every year or two. Otherwise, an eye exam should be scheduled depending on the advice of their eye doctor.
- Adults who are healthy and don’t have vision problems can have their eyes checked once a year regardless of age.
- Already wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses? You should have your eyes checked more often. The same is true if you have a history of eye disease in your family or have been diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, which increases your risk of eye disease.
Who Does Eye Exams
You may encounter three kinds of eye specialists when you come in for an eye exam: ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians.
- Ophthalmologists are eye doctors trained to provide full eye care by giving comprehensive eye exams and prescribing vision correction solutions, as well as diagnosing and treating complex eye diseases and performing eye surgery.
- Optometrists, on the other hand, offer a lot of the same services as ophthalmologists, but don’t treat the more complex eye issues or perform surgery.
Opticians are in charge of filling out prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses, in addition to assembly and fitting.
Preparing for an Eye Exam
Knowing what to expect during an eye exam can go a long way toward helping you relax and feel more comfortable during a visit. If you’re visiting a new eye doctor, you can expect a portion of your appointment to be dedicated to getting to know you, which will include questions about your general health and vision history. Answering these questions as truthfully and completely as you can is important because it will provide your eye doctor in Lorton, VA, with the information needed to properly assess your risk for vision problems and eye disease, allowing them to provide you with the appropriate method of treatment.
After an Eye Exam
Your eye exam results will be discussed with you, providing you with more details regarding your eyes’ current condition. Your eye doctor will talk to you about treatment options and the next steps you should take, should certain issues be identified during your eye exam. They will also give you tips on preventive eye care to help you take better care of your general eye health.