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When you think of an eye exam one normally imagines someone reading a letter chart such as the one to the left. This is merely a start. There is much more involved including a thorough understanding of one's medical and eye history as well as one's family eye and medical history. Then an evaluation of the neurological senses of the eye movements, color vision, pupil reflexes and fields of vision.
Afterwards, a thorough evaluation of vision, with a device many of us are familiar with called a phoropter, is performed to help us find the most clear comfortable vision possible. (below, right).
Then a microscopic examination of the eyes using a biomicroscope, or slit lamp, is important to evaluate the delicate external and internal structures of the eye. This is important to identify eye disease during a ocular crisis or as early as possible. These structures include the cornea, the lens, the iris, eyelids and lashes and more. Also an important part of the eye examination includes intraocular pressure testing to help rule out glaucoma, a condition which causes blindness, this is usually done by use of an instrument mounted on the slit lamp called a tonometer. Another common method used by eye doctors to test the eye pressure is a machine that blows a soft puff of air into the eye.
Finally, an eye exam should include a look at the internal structures of the eye, most notably the retina that contains a structure called the macula that contains the fovea, which is resposible for our best or sharpest, cental vision. Eye drops are often used that dilate the pupils. These eyedrops have effects that last about 4 hours and provide eye doctors with a greater ability to view the the full retina, optic nerve, vascular tree, and the macular area.
This is recommend every two years unless you have something that needs monitoring sooner like diabetes or are at-risk for other retinal problems.
If eye health concerns are identified in the course of the eye exam your optometrist or ophthalmologist may order additional testing. These tests may include Vision Field testing, for a more comprehensive examination of your peripheral vision, an OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography), for more comprehensive look at parts of the retina or optic nerve, and others.
Occasionally, a person may present without any symptoms and have good vision where still an optometrist or ophthalmologist may find signs of mild or advanced ocular or systemic disease which can be serious. It is important to see an eyecare professional routinely to ensure good ocular health. Dr King Recommends annual eye examination, even if your vision is fine, with an eye dilation every two years unless you are more at risk for retinal disease such as those with diabetes among other conditions.