What should a routine eye exam include?

Routine eye exams are vital for detecting glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. They are particularly important if you have a family history of eye problems or if you have any risk factors, but they are still very important for everyone. Children should have exams at 6 months, 3 years, and again around first grade. There are some eye problems that develop early that need a quick diagnosis to treat effectively.

Before your eye exam you should get any family eye history as well as a list of all the medications (including over-the-counter) that you take. Bring contact lenses or glasses, if you wear them, along with a pair of sunglasses in the event that your pupils are dilated. Expect the exam itself to take 30 minutes to an hour. With our new digital retinal imaging system (Optos) we are able to cut most exam times in half and have a digital record of your retinal health.

Your eye doctor will perform various routine tests, possibly more if you need corrective lenses. Generally these tests include an eye muscle movement test, cover test, external exam and pupillary reactions test, visual acuity test, slit lamp test, retinal exam, glaucoma testing, and visual field test. The eye muscle movement test is used to determine if your eyes are normally aligned and that they track normally. The cover test is used to determine if your eyes work together well. Your doctor will cover and uncover each eye individual to see how your eyes move and identify any strabismus. The external exam and pupillary reactions test involves a general exam of the exterior of your eye, the eyelids, and how your eye reacts to light and focusing on objects nearby. The visual acuity test is used to determine if you have any nearsightedness or farsightedness. A slit lamp test is used to detect various eye diseases by lighting up the front of your eye. The retinal examination involves the doctor dilating your pupil and examining the back your eyes with an ophthalmoscope. Pupil dilation takes awhile to resolve, so sunglasses are needed reduce the light and make the ride home tolerable. Optos digital imaging has none of these side effects. Glaucoma testing checks the fluid pressure of your eyes either by numbing your eyes and touching it with an applanation tonometer, or using the non-contact tonometer test (“puff of air.”) The visual field test is used to determine your peripheral vision.

If you feel that you have had exams in the past that did not include all of these tests, you should call our office to schedule a full eye health exam. Our staff will be happy to assist you with your insurance and any other questions you may have.