Eye exams are an important part of maintaining and caring for your vision. Without regular vision tests, certain vision deteriorating conditions are impossible to detect until either it's too late or invasive surgery is necessary. However, if you've never had your eyes checked, or if it's been a long while since your last visit to the optometrist, you may not know what to expect when you go in for your exam. Learn more about the process you'll go through when you visit your eye care specialist.
If you are seeing a new doctor or haven't seen your doctor in several years, they will ask you about your overall medical history and if you are having any vision problems. Be sure to give them as much accurate information as you can; knowledge of your personal history and family history may help with discovering the proper diagnosis. It's always good to bring your current eyeglasses or contact lenses with you, as well.
This examination allows your optometrist to determine if you are having vision problems. You will go through a series of tests with your doctor so that they can determine if your eyes are functioning at their best. Your optometrist will test the muscles that control your eyes by having you look in certain directions or follow an object with your eyes. Then, you will be asked to read a chart at a distance while your doctor switches lenses to determine what, if any, corrective lens prescription will give you the sharpest vision.
This is the infamous "puff of air" test. To determine if you have glaucoma, your doctor needs to find out what sort of pressure is in your eyes. The easiest way to do this is to use a machine to quickly puff air at your eye. This can be uncomfortable for a second, but other methods of determining your eye's pressure can require anesthetic drops and actually touching your eye, which can make them seem a bit more invasive.
This is where your doctor dilates your eyes. If you haven't done this recently, if at all, your optometrist will most likely encourage you to have this test if he or she thinks it necessary. Your doctor will use special eye drops to dilate your pupils. This allows them to see to the back of your eye so that they can examine your retina, optic disk, and ocular blood vessels. Damage or clouding found during this exam can indicate the existence of degenerative eye diseases.
Though the retinal exam only lasts a few minutes, the drops the doctor has to use to dilate your pupils can last for several hours. Your vision may be blurred during this time, and you will be very sensitive to bright lights. If you can, bring your own pair of sunglasses to avoid hurting your eyes. If you don't have your own sunglasses, your doctor may be able to give you disposable sun shades to help.
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