Your vision impacts your performance at work, school and home and affects how you see the world. When your eye health is good, you’ll perform better in all aspects of your life. About 75% of American adults need some form of vision correction. The right pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses can bring everything around you into focus from street signs to loved ones’ faces.
Vision correction is just one reason to have your eyes tested regularly. Regular eye exams can also detect diseases of the eye early and can uncover other health issues like diabetes. Early treatment is critical to preventing some common eye diseases from causing permanent damage and vision loss. During your eye exam, Dr. Thomas will perform checks for cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration in addition to testing your vision.
Children should have their first eye exam between ages 3 and 5 to detect any problems like amblyopia (lazy eye) early. It’s also a good idea for them to have an eye exam before each school year to ensure that they are able to perform at their best. Adults with diabetes or a family history of glaucoma should be sure to have a dilated eye exam at least annually and senior citizens should have a dilated eye exam at least once every two years. If you begin to experience any eye or vision problems such as blurry or double vision, floaters or eye pain, don’t wait, schedule an eye exam right away to preserve your eyesight and avoid vision loss.
What to Expect During Your Eye Exam:
Depending on your age, health history and eye condition, your eye exam may or may not include all of these elements, but here’s a good idea of what you might encounter during your eye exam.
Visual Acuity Test. This test measures the sharpness of your vision. Normally this will include reading an eye chart from a distance as well as a small hand-held chart to test your near vision.
Cover Test. The cover test helps Dr. Thomas determine how well your eyes work together. You’ll be asked to stare at an object at a distance while first one eye and then another are covered. It will then be repeated while looking at a nearby object. This will tell Dr. Thomas whether the uncovered eye must move in order to see the object when the other eye is covered. This could indicate strabismus or a binocular vision problem which could lead to amblyopia.
Color Blindness Test. This screening test will check your color vision. Most color blindness issues are hereditary, but few people realize that color blindness can also be indicative of other eye health problems.
Ocular Motility Test. This test will check your eye movements and how well your eyes can follow a moving object. You’ll be asked to hold your head still and follow an object with just your eyes. If problems are detected, Dr. Thomas can help you correct them before they hurt your ability to read, play sports or carry out other daily life activities.
Depth Perception Test. Your eyes must work together well in order to provide you with the 3D vision that gives us depth perception. Depth perception, also known as stereopsis, is vitally important for skills like catching or hitting a ball, driving, and a myriad of other daily activities. The ability of your eyes to team together and utilize depth cues will be tested.
Fundus Photograph and OCT (Optical coherence tomography) Tests. These are performed as a pre-test to your examination with the doctor. They are both non-invasive procedures that take only a few minutes. The technician may administer a drop in each eye to help the pupil relax (not dilate) in order to get a better image. These images show the doctor a very detailed picture of the back of the eye, which includes the retina, behind the retina, the optic nerve, and blood vessels. These images allow the doctor to more accurately diagnose such diseases as glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, and other diabetic diseases.
Retinoscopy. The lights in the room will be dimmed and you’ll be asked to focus on an object across the room while a light is shined in your eyes so the doctor can view the reflex of your retina to the light. Various test lenses may be placed in front of your eyes as well. This test gives an approximation of what corrective lenses might help your vision based on the way light reflects from your eyeballs.
Refraction. Refraction testing allows Dr. Thomas to hone in on your exact lens prescription with precision. During refraction testing, the phoropter machine will be placed in front of your face and you’ll be shown a series of lens choices. Each time the lenses are changed, you’ll be asked which one is more clear. The refraction will determine your level or nearsightedness or farsightedness as well as astigmatism and presbyopia.
Slit Lamp Exam. The slit lamp is a device that Dr. Thomas uses to magnify the structures of your eyes in order to examine them. You’ll place your forehead and chin in rests built into the machine so you stay steady during the examination. The slit lamp will help Dr. Thomas detect issues such as cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal ulcers and diabetic retinopathy.
Glaucoma Test. Glaucoma is a condition where increased pressure in the eyeball can damage the optic nerve and eventually cause blindness. Catching the disease early can help stop this progression. To test for glaucoma, eye drops are put into your eyes to numb them. Then the doctor or assistant gently touches the front surface of your eye with a device that glows with a blue light which will provide the pressure reading of your eye. If you have high eye pressure, you may already have glaucoma or be at risk of developing it and simple treatment can help you preserve your vision.
Dilation Exam. You may have your pupils dilated in order for Dr. Thomas to get a better view of the internal structures of your eye. Dilating drops will be placed in your eyes and they normally take about 20 minutes to work. Having a dilated pupil exam is very important for people with certain eye disease risk factors because it allows for the most thorough examination of your eye health. When your pupils have been dilated you’ll be sensitive to light for a few hours afterwards, so bring sunglasses to wear home.