What is done during an Eye Exam?
The information below is a compilation of most of the routine tests and findings that
comprise a comprehensive, dilated eye examination. This examination assesses the
health and function of your eyes, and is a wise investment toward protecting your
eyesight. You should also keep in mind that not all eye examinations need to be
comprehensive, and your doctor may be instead respond to a concern or your request
for the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of specific complaints. Generally, a
comprehensive examination may take from one half hour to over an hour, depending
upon the age of the patient and the number and type of tests required. Some of the tests
are performed by the eye doctor and others are performed by qualified and highly
trained ophthalmic technicians.
The Eye Examination
The first step in any complete eye examination is a review of your health history and
symptoms you may be experiencing. You'll be asked about your work, interests and
health. Your occupation and hobbies will give your practitioner an idea of the
conditions in which you need your eyes to work best. And your medical history will
alert your eye care practitioner to any illnesses of which you may already be aware or
that run in your family.
Next, it will be determined whether your vision has changed since your last appointment
by using the eye chart to test your eyes -- both with and without your current glasses
or contact lenses. Once an assessment has been made of the quality of your vision,
the examination turns to the internal and external parts of the eye and surrounding
tissues. Neurological and ocular motor tests are conducted to detect the presence of
disease or other abnormalities that may impair your vision or affect your health. The
intraocular pressure (IOP) within your eye is then measured to check for one of the
components of glaucoma.
To allow the doctor the best view of the internal structures of the eye, your eye will be
dilated through the use of eye drops. These drops cause the iris to open wide, giving
the doctor a good view inside your eye. While your eyes are dilated, close work or
reading may be difficult, plus bright sunlight may be annoying. The effects of the
dilating drops usually begin to subside after a few hours; however, it is wise to bring
good sunglasses to help you see in bright sunlight following a dilated eye exam.
Recommendations are offered for protection and improvement in your eyesight. Should
you require corrective lenses, a procedure known as a refraction is conducted to
determine the prescription that is best for you. Custom fitting of contact lenses plus
instruction on their care and use is also available from your eye doctor.
The Non-dilated Eye Exam
As a convenience for those individuals who must return to work after the examination
or cannot wait for the effects of the dilation drops to abate, non-dilated eye examinations
are available. If there are indications for a thorough assessment of the interior of the eye,
the doctor will schedule a dilated examination at a later date and time.
Other specialized tests may be performed as warranted and generally are not part of a
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