Many of you panic at the very thought of visiting an eye doctor. But what is it that you’re afraid of? There won’t be any needles, just eye drops and that’s it. If the doctor detects a problem, she will immediately chart out a line of treatment. So whenever you feel scared just imagine how much worse it could be if you kept delaying that eye exam simply out of fear. An hour or two is all it takes! The amount of time you spend at an eye exam depends upon the number and the complexity of tests required in order to fully evaluate your vision and the health of your eyes.
Ophthalmologists use a variety of tests and procedures to examine the eyes. These tests can range from simple ones like identifying letters on an eye chart to more complex tests. And like you all know, an eye exam is not the same as an eye test wherein some optician gives you a prescription. Eye exams are more detailed and are best for identifying various underlying eye problems and other health issues. It’s an in-depth study of your eyes that brings to light a lot that you are not even aware of. Today we’re going to break this down for you, so you know exactly what to expect during a comprehensive eye exam.
First things first – your ophthalmologist or optometrist will ask for your complete medical history. So before you head out for your visit, make sure that you’ve penned down all the medications you take along with your family’s medical history. But make sure that it’s not limited to their eye health, include every detail especially chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes. This helps your doctor keep an eye out for symptoms related to those health conditions too.
Visual Acuity Test
Do you remember the picture with the rows of letters that have a big E on the top? That’s part of the visual acuity test. This test is done to identify how well you see individual letter details from certain distances. It is done to determine the fraction that your visual acuity is expressed. So when a doctor says that you have a 20/20 vision it means that you can see something at 20 feet which in general is considered normal. However, if your vision is 20/40 it means that you have to be at a distance of 20 feet to see something that most people can see from a distance of 40 feet.
Color Blindness Test
This is a screening test that checks how well your eye can recognize different colors. This test is usually conducted at the beginning of a comprehensive eye exam to rule out color blindness. During the test, you will see a number of colorful dots. These dots are mostly of the same color or shade, but inside the circle is an image, usually a number, made from a different set of colorful dots. If you’re able to identify the number inside the circle, you can see colors just fine and if you can’t, you might have some issues with colorblindness.
The next thing that your doctor will do is check the alignment of your eyes. This is also known as the cover test. While conducting this test, your eye doctor will ask you to pay attention to an object across the room. He will then cover each of your eyes consecutively while you stare at the target object. He then repeats the same test with you looking at a near object. This test helps the doctor understand if you’re suffering from strabismus (a subtle binocular vision problem) that could cause eye strain or amblyopia often known as lazy eye.
The depth perception test which is also known as stereopsis is one of the many tests conducted during a comprehensive eye exam. During this test, your eye doctor will use a number of ways to check for your ability to visually understand 3D objects. He/she might handover a pair of 3D glasses and hand you a book that’ll have several different patterns for you to look at. Each of these patterns will have four circles. All you need to do is to find which of the circles appears nearest to you. If you’re able to identify a circle, it will show the doctor that your eyes work properly together and that it’s able to understand distance and depth without any problem.
Slit Lamp Exam
A slit lamp exam is perhaps one of the most detail-oriented tests. Now that your doctor has a fair idea of how your eyes operate externally, it’s time to take a look at your inner eye. During a slit lamp test, a doctor will examine your eyes using a microscope that comes with a chin rest. This microscope can look at the insides of your eyes to the point where the doctor should be able to see your retina along with the optic nerve. This test is ideal for checking a number of underlying eye problems such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, corneal ulcers, and more.
In order to obtain a better view of your eye’s internal structures, your doctor will conduct a test that’s known as pupil dilation. To begin with your eye doctor will apply drops to the surface of your eyes to dilate the pupils. This will make your eyes sensitive to light for a while and you won’t be able to see things clearly but there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Your eyes will get back to normal within a couple of hours. Once the eye drops have taken effect, your doctor will use an instrument to examine the interior of your eyes. This test helps to rule out health problems such as cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachments.