Vision exams are more than simple vision screening tests. They are vital preventative eye care exams that are as important to your health as regular physicals.
Why you need an eye exam
Eye examinations are an important part of preventative healthcare. Many eye and vision conditions present no obvious symptoms, so people often do not know a problem exists. Problems that can be detected during an eye exam include: cataracts, retinal problems, glaucoma, and evidence of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. These are just a few reasons why it is important to have your eyes examined by an optometrist regularly.
How often you need an eye exam
How often you need an eye exam is dependent upon your age and any risk factors for developing visual problems or eye conditions. Indicators of such include a family history of vision problems or eye diseases, a child's learning ability that seems affected by his/her eyesight, premature birth, and a diagnosis of diabetes or hypertension. If any of these indicators apply to you, your eye doctor will set up a schedule of eye exams based on your risk factors. The following chart presents the exam time intervals, recommended by our optometrists, for patients to follow to ensure the health of their eyes. We recommend that children have their first eye exam at 6 months of age. Remember, an early eye exam could save years of needless blurred vision that might otherwise become deeply embedded and therefore much more difficult to treat with glasses. Exams are covered by insurance plans on a per plan basis. Most insurance plans cover a routine exam once every two years. A medical exam is covered once every year.
How often to have an eye exam
6 Months - First Eye Exam
Contact Lens Wearers - Annually
What an eye exam entails
An eye examination consists of various tests to evaluate the health of your eyes and, if necessary, determine the prescription lenses needed to obtain the best possible sight.
A comprehensive eye exam consists of:
- a review of your family and personal health history;
- an examination of your eyes' exterior and interior for signs of eye disease and general health;
- identifying health conditions that may show up in the eyes, such as diabetes or hardening of the arteries;
- testing the pressure of the eye and its visual field to diagnose glaucoma;
- testing your ability to see clearly at near and far distances;
- determining the presence of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia (for adults over 40);
- checking for any difficulty with depth-perception;
- a check of eye coordination and eye muscle function to be certain the eyes are working together as a team;
- a test of the ability to change focus easily from near to far and vice versa.
Additional tests that are part of a comprehensive eye exam for young children involve:
- checking for any indication of strabismus (crossed eyes) or that the child is only using one eye;
- testing eye-hand-foot coordination;
- a series of tests to determine how well the child's vision skills are developing.
Thorough care also includes a discussion of the exam's findings and any treatment the optometrist prescribes. The optometrist may also provide additional advice regarding eye safety, relieving on-the-job eyestrain, maintaining a healthy eye, environmental factors, such as lighting affecting your eyesight, and prescription lens choices.
Important things to discuss
The amount of information you offer your eye doctor is important in getting the most from your eye exam. It helps the optometrist to better understand your vision needs as well as formulate a better picture about possible problems. Besides telling him or her why you are having the exam, make sure to mention:
- your hobbies and sports.
- your work environment, e.g., on a computer, in a factory, construction, etc.
- any eye problems, such as blurred vision, eyestrain, seeing spots, dry eyes, etc.
- prescription and non-prescription medications you are taking.
- optical health conditions and/or diseases in your family.
- and any other information you can share that is pertinent to your health, vision, or lifestyle.