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:
VISUAL ACUITY TEST
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.
PUPIL SIZE AND REACTIVITY TEST
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.
EYE MOVEMENT EXAM
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.
The Optomap™ examines a picture taken of the back of your eye that allows the doctor to detect and measure changes to your retina. It works by providing an eye wellness scan with in-depth views of the retina. It is very fast, easy and comfortable. Having an Optomap exam means no more dilated eye exams.
VISUAL FIELD TEST
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.
Getting the results
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.