An eye exam is a comprehensive evaluation of a person’s visual system conducted by a licensed eye doctor. The purpose of an eye exam is to assess the health of the eye and determine any visual problems that may be present. Some of the comprehensive eye exams may include:
- Visual acuity test
- Refraction test
- Eye movement test
- Eye pressure test
- Slit-lamp examination
- Dilated eye exam
A contact lens exam is a specific type of eye exam that focuses on evaluating the suitability of the patient for contact lens wear, determining the right prescription, and fitting the patient with the appropriate type and brand of lenses. Examples of contact lens exams are:
- Comprehensive eye exam
- Refraction test
- Tear film evaluation
- Trial lenses
- Lens fitting and instruction
Benefits of a comprehensive eye exam
A comprehensive eye exam can detect eye diseases or abnormalities before they cause symptoms. Early detection is important to prevent vision loss, giving patients more treatment options and reducing the risk of permanent damage.
A comprehensive eye exam should be performed once every year. Children should have regular tests to ensure that their vision is normal so that their schoolwork does not suffer. Older adults are at higher risk for eye conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts.
During a comprehensive eye examination, simple refractive errors are detected, and serious eye problems or diseases, including the following, are diagnosed:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Eye-tracking difficulty
- Diabetic retinopathy
Even in younger, healthy adults who are asymptomatic, a regular eye examination is essential. Serious medical conditions, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure, can be detected, allowing patients to seek treatment early.
Comprehensive eye exams
A comprehensive eye examination differs from a vision screening. The latter only tests visual acuity and is commonly performed by a school nurse, optician, pediatrician, or other healthcare providers. To evaluate the eyes thoroughly and detect any problems, the following tests are performed:
- Visual acuity – The Visual Acuity test measures the sharpness of vision using a chart of letters. Results help determine the need for prescription lenses or visual aids.
- Visual field – The Visual field exam measures the breadth and capacities of a patient’s side vision. By detecting signals of light from the sides while focusing their gaze ahead, patients can identify potential issues related to neurological disorders or glaucoma.
- Retinal examination under pupil dilation – Retinal examination under pupil dilation involves administering eye drops to widen the pupil, allowing doctors to view a larger portion of the retina. This test can detect a variety of eye diseases, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachment.
- Slit-lamp – The slit-lamp exam uses a microscope with a bright light source to view the structures at the front of the eye, including the cornea, iris, and lens. This helps detect abnormalities or diseases such as cataracts, corneal ulcers, and macular degeneration.
- Tonometry – Tonometry is an exam that measures the intraocular pressure (IOP) in the eyes. This test is commonly used to detect glaucoma, a condition characterized by high IOP that can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss. There are different types of tonometry, including the puff test and the slit-lamp exam.
- Keratometry – Keratometry is an optical test that measures the curvature of the cornea, the clear front part of the eye. This exam helps to diagnose and manage corneal astigmatism, and contact lens fit, and track the progression of corneal changes in diseases like keratoconus.
- Refraction – The refraction eye exam helps determine the appropriate prescription for glasses or contact lenses by measuring how light bends in the eye. During the exam, different lenses are placed in front of the eye, and the patient indicates which ones allow for clearer vision.
Preparing for an eye exam
Preparing for an eye exam can help ensure that you get the most out of your appointment and can help your eye doctor diagnose any potential eye conditions. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a routine eye exam or a contact lens exam:
- Bring any previous eye records
If you have previously been to an eye doctor or ophthalmologist, gather any previous records or prescriptions you have. This will help your doctor get a complete medical history of your eyes.
- Write down any questions or concerns
Make a list of any questions or concerns you want to discuss during your appointment. This can include things like changes in vision, eye strain, watering or itching, or difficulty seeing at night.
- Find your current prescription
If you already wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to bring them with you to the appointment. Knowing your current prescription can help our doctor determine whether your vision has changed since your last exam.
- Think about family history
Certain eye conditions may be inherited, so if there is any history of eye disease in your family, make sure to let our eye doctor know.
- Bring a form of ID and Insurance Card
Bring your insurance card with you and a form of identification in case it’s needed.
Understanding the contact lens exam
When it comes to a contact lens exam, patients can expect more detailed tests to assess whether they are suitable candidates for contact lenses. The following are some things you should know:
- Pre-exam Questionnaire
During a contact lens exam, our eye doctor will start by reviewing your medical history and will ask about your eye-related symptoms or issues.
- Comprehensive eye exam
Similar to a routine eye exam, our eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to ensure you have healthy eyes and evaluate your prescription.
- Contact lens fitting exam
This exam involves specialized tests to measure the curvature of your eye, ensuring the contact lens fits snugly and comfortably on the eye.
- Contact lens selection
Our eye doctor will work with you to choose the contact lens type that best meets your unique needs, lifestyle, and vision requirements. There are a variety of options to choose from, including daily, weekly or monthly wear, and soft or hard lenses.
- Insertion and Care Instruction
Our doctor will explain how to insert, remove and care for your lenses. This includes how to clean and store them and what to do if you lose a lens or have an issue relating to contact lens use.
Remember, the goal of a contact lens exam is to ensure that you select the best contact lenses for your eyes and have adequate instructions on their use and care. It’s important to ask our doctor any questions that you might have regarding your contact lenses, so you can take proper care of them and reduce the risk of eye infections or other complications.
Types of contact lenses
There are several varieties of contact lenses. The distinctive features of each offer a wide range of options.
- Soft Contact Lenses
- Daily-Wear Lenses
- Extended-Wear Lenses
- Disposable-Wear Lenses
- Gas-Permeable Lenses
Wearing contact lenses is easy and comfortable for most individuals, provided that they follow our doctor’s instructions and care for their lenses. To keep the eyes healthy as a regular contact lens wearer, follow a few basic rules.
- Attend follow-up appointments regularly
- Take contact lenses out each night at least one hour before going to sleep unless meant for extended use
- Do not exceed the recommended period for wearing contact lenses even if they are not causing any discomfort
Do not wear contact lenses when your eyes are painful, red, or irritated. Remove the lenses, then clean and store them until the eyes are no longer experiencing these symptoms. If any uncomfortable symptoms return upon renewed use of the contact lenses, make an appointment for an office visit.
Eye health and wellness
Taking care of your eyes is an essential part of maintaining good vision and a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips to protect your eyes and maintain good eye health:
- Get Regular Eye Exams
Visit our eye doctor regularly to maintain healthy eyes, detect vision problems or eye diseases, and ensure that your contact lenses or eyeglasses prescription remains up-to-date.
- Eat a Balanced Diet
Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially those containing vitamin A, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids to help promote good eye health.
- Wear Sunglasses
UV rays from the sun can damage your eyes, just like they can damage your skin, which is why you should wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
- Take Breaks from Digital Devices
Extended periods of time on digital devices can cause eyestrain, blurred vision, and dry eyes. Take frequent breaks and follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Quit Smoking
Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, including the eyes. Smoking increases the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye diseases.
- Follow Eye Safety Precautions
Protect your eyes when using tools, playing sports, or working with chemicals. Always wear protective eyewear when necessary.
By following these tips, you can help keep your eyes healthy and reduce the risk of vision problems or diseases. Don’t forget to talk to our eye doctor if you have any concerns or questions about your eye health.