What is A Comprehensive Eye Exam?

Periodic eye and vision examinations are an important part of preventive health care. Many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms, so you might not know a problem exists. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye and vision problems can help prevent vision loss.

Each patient’s signs and symptoms, along with your optometrist’s professional judgment, will determine what tests your optometrist conducts. A comprehensive adult eye and vision examination may include, but is not limited to, the following tests.

Patient History
The doctor will ask about any eye or vision problems you are currently having and about your overall health. In addition, a patient history will include when your eye or vision symptoms began, medications you are taking, and any work-related or environmental conditions that may be affecting your vision. The doctor will also ask about any previous eye or health conditions you and your family members have experienced.

Visual Acuity
Visual acuity measurements evaluate how clearly each eye is seeing. Reading charts are often used to measure visual acuity. As part of the testing, you will read letters on charts at a distance and near.

The results of visual acuity testing are written as a fraction, such as 20/40. The top number in the fraction is the standard distance at which testing is done (20 feet). The bottom number is the smallest letter size you were able to read. A person with 20/40 visual acuity would have to get within 20 feet to see a letter that should be seen clearly at 40 feet. Normal distance visual acuity is 20/20.

Preliminary Tests
An optometrist may first want to look at specific aspects of your visual function and eye health. Preliminary tests can include evaluations of depth perception, color vision, eye muscle movements, peripheral or side vision, and the way your pupils respond to light.

Keratometry
This test measures the curvature of the cornea (the clear outer surface of the eye) by focusing a circle of light on the cornea and measuring its reflection. This measurement is particularly critical in determining the proper fit for contact lenses.

Refraction
Refraction determines the lens power you need to compensate for any refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism). Using an instrument called a phoropter, your optometrist places a series of lenses in front of your eyes. He or she then measures how these lenses focus light using a handheld lighted instrument called a retinoscope. Your doctor may choose to use an instrument that automatically evaluates the focusing power of the eye. The lens power is then refined based your input on the lenses that give you the clearest vision.

Eye Health Evaluation
Your optometrist may need to perform additional tests based on the results of the previous tests. These tests can help confirm or rule out possible problems, clarify uncertain findings or provide a more in-depth assessment.

At the completion of the examination, your optometrist will evaluate all the test results to determine a diagnosis. He or she will discuss with you any visual or eye health problems and explain treatment options. In some cases, your optometrist may refer you to another optometrist or other health care provider for consultation or treatment.

Supplemental testing
Additional testing may be needed based on the results of the previous tests to confirm or rule out possible problems, to clarify uncertain findings, or to provide a more in-depth assessment.

At the completion of the examination, your optometrist will assess and evaluate the results of the testing to determine a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. He or she will discuss with you the nature of any visual or eye health problems found and explain available treatment options. In some cases, referral for consultation with, or treatment by, another optometrist or other health care provider may be indicated.

Contact Lens Discomfort?

Ever feel like something’s not quite right with your contact lenses? If so, you’re not alone. Plenty of people who wear contacts experience contact lens discomfort at some point.

Episodes of contact lens discomfort usually does not mean you no longer are a good candidate for contact lenses or that you have to permanently stop wearing contacts. It’s likely that a simple change to your lenses, care products or daily habits will make your contact lenses much more comfortable.

Detection And Treatment Of Contact Lens Discomfort
To determine the specific causes of your contact lens discomfort and appropriate remedies, you need to see your optometrist. A visit to your eye doctor also will rule out the possibility that your discomfort indicates a more serious underlying problem.

Remove your contact lenses and visit your eye doctor if:

  • Eyes stinging, burning, itching (irritation), or other eye pain
  • Comfort is less than when lens was first placed on eye
  • Abnormal feeling of something in the eye (foreign body, scratched area)
  • Excessive watering (tearing) of the eyes
  • Unusual eye secretions
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Reduced sharpness of vision (poor visual acuity)
  • Blurred vision, rainbows, or halos around objects
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Dry eyes

Remember: If your eyes don’t feel good, look good, or see well, you need a checkup by an eye care professional. Sometimes a minor contact lens irritation, if left untreated, can develop into a more serious problem — occasionally one that can be sight-threatening.

Your eyes change, contacts lenses that worked for you before, may not work for you now. Ask your eye doctor about new types of contact lenses and/or cleaning solutions that can relieve discomfort, and improve your vision.