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What You Need to Know About Eye Exams

Everyone should get their eyes checked regularly — even if you’re not aware of any vision problems. Here's what to expect at your next eye exam.

By Katherine Lee

Medically Reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD

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Routine eye exams are important even if you don't detect any vision problems.
Routine eye exams are important even if you don't detect any vision problems.
Thomas Northcut/Getty Images

Regular eye care exams are crucial for maintaining good eyesight and eye health. Many eye diseases and conditions do not have obvious signs or symptoms, especially in the early stages. This makes getting an early diagnosis vital, so that you can get proper treatment and potentially save your eyesight.

A comprehensive eye care exam will include questions about your medical and family history and tests to determine acuity (how clearly the eye is seeing), refraction (how well the eye bends light), and overall eye health. Based on this information, your eye doctor will decide if you need other tests to rule out potential eye problems.

What Questions Are the Doctor Likely to Ask You During Your Eye Exam?

Your eye doctor may begin the exam by asking you the following questions:

  • Have you noticed any eye problems or symptoms, such as burning, double vision, or discharge?
  • Do you have any general health problems?
  • Do you have any specific health conditions, such as diabetes?
  • Are you taking any medication?
  • Could any environmental conditions at home or at work be affecting your vision, such as sawdust or other fine particles in the air?
  • Have you experienced any previous eye injuries?
  • Do you have a family history of eye conditions, such as glaucoma, or diseases that can affect eye health?

What Tests Should You Expect as Part of an Eye Exam?

After assessing your medical history, your eye doctor will test your visual acuity by having you read letters on an eye chart, both up close and at a distance.

Your doctor will also test how your eyes move. “The eyes should track together,” says Alberto Martinez, MD, an ophthalmologist in Bethesda, Maryland. “We also check pupils to make sure they move together.”

Your doctor will test your color vision, depth perception, and ability to focus. He will use a bright light and magnification to check your pupils, eyelids, cornea, conjunctiva (the membrane that covers your eyeball and inside your eyelid), and surrounding eye tissue.

Your pupils may be dilated to get a better view of your lens, the retina, and eye structure. A painless procedure called tonometry uses a special machine to measure the fluid pressure inside your eye to check for early signs of glaucoma.

How Often Should You Visit Your Eye Doctor?

Eye care specialists recommend regular checkups for eye health. Here are some rules of thumb:

  • Children who have no family history of eye disease or symptoms should have their eyes examined by their pediatrician as part of their regular well-child checkups. Children should have their vision tested before they start school, and then every one to two years.
  • Adults who have no family history of eye disease or symptoms should have a comprehensive eye exam at least once between ages 20 and 29 and at least twice between ages 30 and 39.
  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology now recommends that adults with no symptoms or eye disease risk factors also have a baseline exam to screen for eye diseases at age 40. Between the ages of 40 and 65, adults should follow up at intervals recommended by their eye doctor, which will depend on factors evaluated at the baseline exam.
  • Adults age 65 and over should have a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years to check for eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

People with a family history of eye disease or other risk factors should see their eye doctor more frequently.

It’s important to remember that some eye diseases do not show early warning signs. So frequent screenings for eye disease and conditions can help keep your eyes healthy and preserve your eyesight.






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Date: 08.12.2018, 19:05 / Views: 52353