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What Happens at a Regular Eye Exam?

Can you remember when you last had a routine eye examination? Most people are recommended to have a regular eye exam at least once every two years to check their vision and to assess the condition and health of their eyes. If you currently wear glasses or contacts and have a history of consistent prescription changes, or if you have been diagnosed with an eye health condition such as glaucoma or cataracts, your eye doctor may recommend that you have eye exams more often so that these issues can be closely monitored.



Many eye problems develop silently, with symptoms not occurring until some damage has already been done. This makes visiting your eye doctor particularly important, since they can pick up on issues early on, before they start to compromise your vision.



If you haven’t had an eye exam recently, it can be helpful to know what to expect. Here’s what happens at most regular eye exam appointments.


Questions About Your General Health And Optical History


Before you get started with any physical exams, your eye doctor will speak to you about your current general health and your optical history. Many health conditions and medications can affect the eyes, so they will ask you about any health conditions you may have, any medications you are taking regularly and your previous medical history. They will also ask questions about your ocular health, such as:



  • how you feel about your current vision
  • whether you have any concerns about your eyes
  • if you are suffering from headaches
  • if you have any sort of ocular pain
  • if you experience things like flashes of light or issues with seeing colors clearly



This information will be invaluable in building up an overall picture of your eye health and vision and can be used to compare future appointments to so that your eye doctor can see how your visual health progresses over the years.


Visual Acuity Test


This is the part of the eye exam that most people are familiar with - the ‘traditional’ test where you sit in the chair and are asked to read back various letters and numbers from a chart. This assessment is designed to see how well you can see at different distances. Don’t worry; there aren’t any right or wrong answers. At the end of the test, your eye doctor will be able to determine if you require prescription glasses (or contact lenses where suitable) to achieve optimum vision.


Assessing Refraction


If your eye doctor decides that you do need prescription lenses, a refraction assessment will be carried out to establish exactly which prescription you need to enable you to see as clearly as possible. This assessment is usually carried out using a retinoscope - a hand-held instrument, or a computerized alternative. Whichever method is used, both are used to measure how light is refracted by your eyes.


Slit Lamp Assessment


A slit lamp examination enables your eye doctor to look at the internal and external structures of your eyes in greater detail. It can be used to check for conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts, conjunctivitis, and retinal detachment. Early detection of eye health problems is important, and a slit lamp exam is a valuable diagnostic test. It’s important to note that you may need your pupils to be dilated before this exam is performed. Pupil dilation is achieves using special eyedrops administered about an hour before your exam. However, your pupils will remain dilated for several hours afterwards, so you may want to bring sunglasses to prevent excessive light sensitivity.


Visual Skills Assessment


During your examination, your eye doctor will carry out a visual skills test to check how your eyes function both together and individually. They will check how your eyes respond to visual stimulation, and how well they track objects to see how if they can work independently and together. If your eye doctor has any concerns, they may suggest some types of exercises to help improve these skills.


Tonometry Testing


One of the best methods of detecting glaucoma is with a piece of equipment called a tonometer. Glaucoma is one of a group of conditions that can be caused by an increase in intraocular pressure, damaging the optic nerve. If left undetected, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss, so for anyone at high risk or with symptoms of increased intraocular pressure, tonometry testing is a very important part of a routine eye exam.




Every eye exam is different, and these represent just some of the elements that you may experience. If you have any questions regarding routine eye exams, or if you are ready to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor, call International Opticians at (786) 460-1081 to reach our office in Miami, Florida.

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