Many people believe that eye exams are only meant to check and correct your vision. While this is a valid reason to have an eye exam, there is also another important reason. An eye doctor can check the health of your eye, too.
Why do we need to see an Eye Doctor?
People visit an eye doctor when they can't see well. Some people visit when they are out of contact lenses or their glasses aren't strong enough. We may see an eye doctor if we are getting head aches or if our eyes are straining. Some allergy sufferers spend time at the eye doctor's office, as well.
As we get older, we may find ourselves visiting the eye doctor more and more because of age related issues.
This is an overview of what to expect in an ordinary eye exam.
Have you ever had an Eye Exam?
A Typical Eye Exam
When you get to the doctor's office, you will probably be asked to fill out some forms. Just like with any doctor, your eye doctor needs some general health information in order to assess your eye health.
There are some pretests you will need before your exam.
- Auto refractor. This will read your prescription. While it is fairly accurate, it is meant to give the doctor a starting point where he will then ":fine tune" your prescription.
- Tonometer. This will test the pressure in your eye and helps to diagnose glaucoma.
- Visual Fields. This will check how well you can see peripherally
- Retinal Images. This will get a picture of the back of your eye. The doctor will be able to determine how healthy your retina is.
- Dilation. The use of medicated eye drops to open the pupil so the doctor can get a better view inside and to the back.
- Some tests also include testing for color blindness and depth perception.
Not all of these tests are necessary for every exam but they are common tests that are used for diagnosing refractive errors or eye conditions.
You've heard people say, "I have 20/20 vision." This is their acuity, how accurately they can see at 20 feet. When you are sitting in the exam room, the first thing you will see is an eyechart. It will probably be an image projected on the wall. With this,the doctor can determine what your visual acuities are. If you are 20/100 that means that you would have to be 20 feet away from an object that someone who doesn't require correction can see at 100 feet away.
There are two types of Eye Doctors that you can see for a general Eye Exam. An Optometrist and an Opthamologist.
An Optometrist is an eye doctor who holds a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. They examine eyes for vision and health problems. They correct refractive errors, can take care of low vision problems and vision therapy. They prescribe corrective eyeglasses, contact lenses and medication to treat certain eye conditions and diseases.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) or an osteopathic doctor (DO) who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye exams, diagnose and treat disease, prescribe medications and perform eye surgery. They also write prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses.
There are also eye doctors who specialize in particular fields, such as retinalogists, who treat problems with the retina.
What is Refractive Error?
How our eyes focus light determines how well we see. An eye that can view distant objects (by focusing parallel rays of light on the retina) without any accommodation has no refractive error.
Refractive error is when we need accommodation (corrective eye wear) to focus the parallel rays of light.
Refractive error makes up 80% of vision impairment in the US. The prevalence of refractive error increases with age.