Comprehensive Eye Exams | When You Need Them

Comprehensive Eye ExamsA comprehensive eye exam should be part of your preventative healthcare plan. In addition to identifying any eye disease or abnormalities on the surface or inside your eyes, an eye exam can also detect other health problems. Diabetes, hypertension, autoimmune disorders, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease can all be detected in a comprehensive eye exam.  

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a baseline eye examination at age 40 to identify signs of eye disease early when treatments can have the greatest benefit.  

Regular Eye Exams

As you get older it is important to include comprehensive eye exams every year or two to check for signs of age-related eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

The leading causes of vision impairment and blindness in the United States are primarily age-related eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. In addition, diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes and the leading cause of new cases of blindness and low vision among Americans 20 to 74 years of age. Detecting diabetic retinopathy in its early stages, before there is vision loss, significantly reduces the chances of severe vision loss from this blinding disease.

Eye Exams for Kids

Children should also have regular eye examinations and need to be checked for eye glasses and motility (eye movement) disorders.  Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is best treated when children are very young.

The American Optometric Association recommends that children have their first eye exam at 6 months and another exam at age three and then again at the start of school. Children who were not diagnosed with an eye disease during those early exams should continue to have eye examination every two years, perhaps more often if glasses are prescribed.  Check with your own eye doctor.

What to Expect

You will be asked your family’s medical history and any medications you are taking.

Your visual acuity will be tested. This is done by reading a standardized eye chart to determine how well you see at various distances. This examination is performed for each eye.

The response of your pupils to light will be evaluated by shining a bright beam of light through your pupils and observing how your pupils respond.

Your side vision, or peripheral vision, will be tested as well as your eye movements. Your eye doctor  will be looking for proper eye alignment and observing your ocular muscle function when you move your eyes left and right and up and down. The pressure within your eyes will also be checked.

Elevated intraocular eye pressure can be  sign of glaucoma.

The Examination

A microscope, called a slit lamp, with a narrow intense light beam, will be used to exam your eyelids, conjunctiva, cornea, sclera, iris, lens, and optic nerve. This will detect developing cataracts on your lens and scar or scratches on your cornea, as well as signs of macular degeneration, detached retina, and any problems with your eyelids.

Drops that dilate the pupils of your eyes will be put into your eyes, so your retina and optic nerve can be examined. The dilating effect of the drops lasts a few hours and will make your eyes sensitive to light until the dilating effects wear off.

The chances of developing eye problems or diseases increases as we age.  Regular eye exams can prevent many forms of vision loss. Children, too, are prone to certain eye problems.  Check with your own eye doctor or pediatrician and ask their opinion regarding the frequency of eye examinations for your child.