Eye Exams For the Whole Family
What Is a Comprehensive Eye Exam?
A comprehensive eye exam involves a series of tests that assess your eye health and vision. This type of eye exam can only be performed by an eye doctor, and shouldn’t be confused with the vision screenings given in schools or other non-professional settings.
Having regular comprehensive eye exams is crucial when it comes to protecting your eyes from sight-threatening diseases, and ensuring that your optical prescription is up-to-date.
A comprehensive eye exam can also reveal signs of a general health condition like diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol.
Why Are Regular Eye Exams So Important?
Regular comprehensive eye exams enable your eye doctor to monitor your eye health and vision over the course of many years. In addition to determining whether you need a new prescription, your optometrist looks for the first signs of sight-threatening eye conditions. In their early stages, diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration have no noticeable symptoms, even while damaging your eyesight. By the time you notice symptoms, vision loss is usually permanent, so early detection is crucial.
What to Expect During a Comprehensive Eye Exam?
Most comprehensive eye exams include the following tests:
- Visual acuity test to measure your near and distance vision. During this test, you’ll be asked to identify letters on a chart.
- Refraction test to identify any refractive errors you may have and the type of optical prescription you may need. Your eye doctor will look for signs of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia (age-related farsightedness).
- Retinoscopy to obtain an approximation of your optical prescription. Your eye doctor will hold a number of lenses in front of each eye to determine which lens offers you the clearest, most comfortable vision.
- Visual field test to detect the presence of scotomas (blind spots) in your side vision, which can be a red flag for certain eye diseases, like glaucoma.
- Glaucoma test to measure the pressure inside your eyes. A machine called a tonometer will dispense a puff of air toward your eye and then calculate your eye pressure based on your eye’s resistance to the air.
- Slit lamp exam to magnify and illuminate your inner and outer eye structures to identify any abnormalities.
How Long Does a Comprehensive Eye Exam Take?
No two patients are alike, so each eye exam is different. Your eye doctor will decide which tests to perform based on your age, personal health and family health history, whether you wear glasses or contact lenses, and other factors.
Why Do Children Need Comprehensive Eye Exams?
An estimated 10% of preschoolers and 25% of school-aged children have vision problems.
For this reason it’s important to have your child’s eyes examined from as early as 6 months of age and in their toddler years to determine if their eyes and vision are developing normally.
After that, annual eye exams are recommended for all children ages 5 to 18, to ensure that a refractive error or other vision problem isn’t impacting their learning or academic success.
If your child wears eyeglasses or contact lenses, they should have an eye exam with a refraction test, at least every year, or according to your optometrist’s instructions.
Similarly, if your child has a lazy eye or eye turn (strabismus), or is at risk of developing an eye or vision condition, they may need to have their eyes examined more frequently.
Common risk factors for vision problems include:
- Premature birth
- Developmental delays
- Turned or crossed eyes
- Family history of eye conditions/diseases
- History of eye injury
- Physical illness or disease
Eye Exams for Adults
From the time you turn 18, it’s a good idea to have your eyes examined every 1-2 years.
By the time you reach 40, it’s especially important to visit your eye doctor on a regular basis, because it’s at this age that the earliest signs of cataracts, presbyopia and macular degeneration can appear.
Above the age of 60 your risk of developing an eye disease further increases, so annual eye exams are vital.
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, have diabetes, hypertension or another health condition, your eye doctor may recommend more frequent eye exams to monitor your eye health.
Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam Near You
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