Have you ever had an eye checkup? Or maybe it’s been years since you’ve seen an eye doctor. It’s important to have a regular eye exam even if you are not experiencing vision problems to protect you from damaging eye diseases like glaucoma.
How often should you get an eye checkup?
The Glaucoma Research Foundation recommends the following schedule:
•Under age 40, every two to four years
•Ages 40 to 54, every one to three years
•Ages 55 to 64, every one to two years
•Over age 65, every six to 12 months
Anyone with high risk factors should be tested every year or two after age 35.
What can you expect during an eye checkup?
If you’re a new patient, you will be asked to provide medical history and answer questions about your vision problems, any corrective lenses and all medications you take. Other questions include a family history of eye diseases like glaucoma or macular degeneration and other health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. Bring glasses or contact lenses with you.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an eye checkup usually follows basic steps to check how clearly you can see, whether you need corrective lenses and a glaucoma screening. Some tests include:
Visual Acuity Looking at letters on a printed chart at a distance to measure how well you see. Letters grow smaller from the top row to the bottom. You may also do a similar test up close for near vision.
Perimetry This measures peripheral vision (how much you can see to the side without moving your eyes). Your doctor may ask you to cover one eye while you follow his or her finger or look at center and side objects on a computer screen. Another computer method asks you to press a button when you see flashing lights.
Eye Muscle Test Your doctor will ask you to follow a moving object (like a pen or a finger) to test eye muscle movement, strength, control and coordination.
Refraction A refractive error means you need some type of corrective lenses (glasses or contact) to make your vision more clear. Your doctor tests this by measuring how light waves focus on the back of your eye either with a computerized tool or by shining a light into your eye. If you need corrective lenses, your doctor will use a device with lenses (called a phoropter) to judge which type will give you the sharpest sight.
Retinal Exam This test (called ophthalmoscopy or funduscopy) lets your doctor look at the back of your eye including blood vessels, the retina and optic disk. He or she may apply eyedrops to dilate your pupils (keep them large) while light shines into them. Your pupils may remain dilated for a few hours afterward which may temporarily blur vision. You may need to wear sunglasses for a while or have someone drive you home after your exam.
Glaucoma Screening Your doctor will test your level of fluid pressure (tonometry) inside your eyes to screen you for glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve. There are several tests for glaucoma, but most routine eye checkups include the “air puff” method or a tono-pen. The pressure in your eye will indicate whether you have of glaucoma. It is important to have a history of your eye pressure to evaluate any changes that occur.
For questions or comments about scheduling your next eye exam, contact Woodhams Eye Clinic.
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