Eye Exams

To check for vision problems and eye disorders, the doctor may use bright lights, instruments, and an array of lenses, eye drops, and other techniques:

To measure how clearly you see at a distance, you identify letters of various sizes on a printed chart. You may also view a chart inside a machine. The type gets smaller as you move down its rows. You’ll cover one eye, then the other, as you read the letters aloud. Your score will then be compared with how someone with normal vision sees at that distance.

If your eyesight isn’t perfect, this test helps your doctor determine the right prescription for glasses or contact lenses. You look into a mask-like device called a phoropter, which holds lenses of various strengths. As you focus on an eye chart, your doctor will flip two lenses into your view and ask if the letters are more clear or less clear. By repeating this step with different combinations, the doctor can pinpoint the power that gives you the best possible vision. If you currently wear glasses or contacts, the doctor will check to see whether your prescription has changed.

The doctor shines a light into each eye to see whether both pupils are the same size and contract normally. Pupil problems can be a warning sign of such disorders as high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis or glaucoma.

You track a moving target, such as the doctor’s hand or pen. As your eyes travel up and down, and from side to side, the doctor checks whether they are properly aligned. This test screens for strabismus – a disorder in which the eyes don’t move together when focusing on an object – and other eye movement disorders.

Also knows as the air puff test, this test gauges the pressure inside your eyes, which goes up if you have glaucoma.

A slit lamp is a microscope with a thin beam of light, used to examine the front of each eye, including your iris (colored portion), sclera (white area), eyelid, lens, and cornea, under magnification. The doctor may use special eye drops to dilate (expand) your pupils, then repeat the exam, to view the retina and back of the eye. The test checks for cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetes complications, cornea scratches or infections and chronic dry eye disease. A thorough retinal exam may detect many other diseases such as high blood pressure and cancer.

The eye drops take about 15 minutes to work and may sting briefly. You might notice a medicinal taste in your mouth as the drops drain from your tear ducts into your throat. After the exam, your eyes will be more sensitive to light for a few hours, until the dilating drops wear off.

Getting an optomap image is fast, painless, and comfortable. Nothing touches your eye at any time. It is suitable for the whole family. To have the test, you simply look into the device one eye at a time (like looking through a keyhole) and you will see a flash of light to let you know the image of your retina has been taken.

Under normal circumstances, dilation drops might not be necessary, but your eye care practitioner will decide if your pupils need to be dilated depending on the health of your eyes. The image capture takes less than a half-second and they are available immediately for you to see your own retina. You see exactly what your eye care practitioner sees - even in a 3D animation.

It's a great idea to have a digital image of your retina for our permanent records.

Now there is a revolutionary new technology that can help doctors find glaucoma earlier, while there’s still time.

What is glaucoma?

Over two million Americans have glaucoma, making it one of the biggest causes of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma can rob people of their vision even though they don’t have any visual symptoms or pain. In fact, half of those with glaucoma don’t even know it. The disease is not easily diagnosed. For example, the common “puff test” which measures eye pressure fails to uncover glaucoma in one third of patients with the disease. No wonder glaucoma is called the “sneak thief of sight.”

How glaucoma affects your vision

Over time, the optic nerve fibers are destroyed, and side vision is lost.

What makes the Optovue exam so revolutionary?

Unlike the puff test, the Optovue exam actually allows your doctor to see the pattern and thickness of the nerve fibers in the back of your eyes, then compares the results to normal values. If your nerve fibers are thinner than normal, this could indicate glaucoma long before any vision has been lost. As a result, your doctor will have more time to treat the disease.

How does the Optovue exam work?

The test is a quick and comfortable part of a complete eye exam. Plus, you don’t have to have your pupils dilated. You simply look into the Optovue system while it safely scans the back of your eye. Total exam time usually takes less than a minute and the system creates easy-to-read images that your doctor can quickly analyze.

Should I be tested?

Do you have a family history of glaucoma? Are you of African-American or Latino ancestry? Do you have high eye pressure? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be at risk.

If you answered no to all three of the above questions, a complete eye exam is still strongly recommended if:

You are 20-29 years old and have never had a complete eye examYou are 30-39 years old and it has been over five years since your last complete eye examYou are 40-64 years old and it has been over two years since your last complete eye examYou are 65 or older and it has been over a year since your last complete eye examRemember, with glaucoma, time is the enemy. So don’t wait. Call one of our convenient locations to schedule your exam today or click here to submit an appointment request online.

There are several ways to test your peripheral (side) vision, but they all involve covering one eye and staring straight ahead with the other. In the most basic test, your doctor moves her hand through your field of vision, and asks if you can see how many fingers she is holding up. You may also be asked to watch a screen as dots of lights flash. Usually, you’ll press a button each time you see a dot, enabling a computer to map your field of vision. The test detects blind spots due to glaucoma, a stroke or other ailments.

After your exam is over, the doctor will go over the findings with you, alert you to any risks and suggest steps to protect your vision, which could be as simple as having another checkup in one or more years. If your current glasses or contacts aren’t doing the trick anymore, you’ll get a prescription for new ones. If other eye problems are detected, your doctor will explain treatment options, which may include eye drops, medication or other therapies.

What if your previously perfect vision isn’t what it used to be? If the problem is mild – you can still pass the driver’s eye test, read comfortably and safely perform everyday tasks – you may decide not to get corrective lenses yet. But if it’s impairing you even moderately, then it’s time for glasses or contacts. Call one of our convenient locations to schedule your exam today or click here to submit an appointment request online.

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