Inside an Eye Exam

What goes on during an annual eye exam? Find out what to expect at your next appointment.

Regular eye exams are crucial to maintaining eye health, but did you know your vision isn’t the only thing eye doctors test? That’s right, a visit to the eye doctor can be beneficial to your overall health, too. We’re here to tell you what really goes on during your eye exam and why it’s so important to arrange an annual eye exam.

1. Health History Form

Before you see an eye doctor to conduct any kind of eye exam, an eye care expert will verify your insurance benefits and discuss all of your patient history. This includes general medical history, current medications, past eye care visits, any eye injuries, and corrective lenses or contacts you are currently using. Eye care experts are patient and more than willing to answer any questions you have about the process.

2. Preliminary Tests

The eye care expert will perform a series of preliminary tests, these may vary from patient to patient based on age and individual needs. If it’s a patient’s first eye exam, the eye care expert will start with a color vision test and a depth perception test. While commonly misconstrued as a color blind test, a color vision test can detect all kinds of color perception issues. A depth perception test will judge the patient’s ability to see 3D vision.

All patients will complete a visual field test to measure peripheral vision. The eye care expert will then measure your eye pressure with a puff of air. Elevated eye pressure can lead to damage to the optic nerve, also known as glaucoma, so this test is sometimes referred to as a glaucoma test.

Finally, your eye care expert will use an autorefractor to measure the shape and length of your eye. While you look into the machine at a shape going in and out of focus, the machine predicts a prescription based on mathematical measurement of the shape of your eye. Your exact prescription will be refined later during the exam with the eye doctor.

3. Eye Exam

Now, the eye exam begins! First, the eye doctor will assess how well your eyes work together with an eye alignment test, also known as the cover test. The eye doctor will cover one of your eyes and analyze their movements separately for issues such as lazy eye.

After the alignment test, your eye doctor will move to the visual acuity test, which is what most people refer to as the vision test. Using an eye test chart, you will read letters close up and at a distance. From this test, the eye doctor will be able to write your vision as a simple fraction, like 20/40.

Your eye doctor will then perform an eye refraction test to finalize your prescription. The eye doctor will show you the impact of degrees of vision correction to determine the prescription through which you see most clearly depending on your degree of near-sightedness or far-sightedness. During this portion of the exam the eye doctor will identify if you have astigmatism and determine to what degree it affects your vision.

Finally, your eye doctor will perform a binocular slit lamp examination. They start with analyzing the health of the front portion of your eyes including the lids, lashes, corneas and lenses. The eye doctor will next look at the back portion of your eyes by concentrating light into the pupil and looking at your optic nerve and retina. At this time, your eye doctor may discuss optional eye dilation if they feel it would be better to get a wider field of view into your eye. Sometimes retinal imaging is available, which can take a picture of the back of the eye without the need for dilated eyes.

If you are interested in contact lenses, your eye doctor can use a keratometer to determine the fit of your contact lenses by measuring the outer surface of your eye.

4. Overall Health Benefits

While performing these eye tests, your eye doctor will also look for things impacting your overall health such as:

  • Cataracts, eye infections, and eye allergies

  • Sun damage around the eyelid that could lead to skin cancer

  • Signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol

Your overall health is very important to eye doctors, so make sure to bring up any concerns you have about your health and your vision during your visit.

As you can see (pun intended) eye exams not only determine if your vision is healthy, they can also tell you crucial information about your overall health through different kinds of eye exams. Now that you know what to expect during an eye exam, and how important they are, it’s time to arrange one. Visit your neighbourhood Pearle Vision to make an appointment with one of our eye care experts today.

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