Many people wonder what exactly happens during a good eye exam. We will outline the steps that your eye doctor will take so you can follow along.
1. Completing a Health History Form
By completing or updating your health history form, you provide the doctor with an overview of your general health. The health history form asks about specific medical conditions and a list of medications that could impact your eyesight. You will also be asked about specific activities you participate in that might require specialized vision care or eyewear. You can complete the health history form online at this link, or you can complete it at the office. Please arrive 10 minutes early if you choose to complete it at the office.
2. Review of Health History and Pre-Exam Consult
Next, you will meet with an optician in the pre-exam room. The optician will review your health history with you and discuss any problems you may be having with your vision. The optician may also review any medical conditions and specific visual needs. The optician will measure your visual acuity with (if applicable) and without correction. Next a series of objective and automated measurements will be taken using the latest in equipment. A visual field machine will determine if your vision is deteriorating in any area. A gentle tonometer will measure the pressure of your eye, in order to assess your risk of developing glaucoma. Our tonometer has the latest software that normalizes readings by taking corneal thickness into account. Finally, a highly accurate autorefractor will measure your estimated prescription and corneal curvatures.
All of this information is networked to the exam room, where your doctor can now begin a highly accurate and efficient exam.
3. Glaucoma Test
Raised intraocular pressure is a significant risk factor for developing glaucoma, so the doctor will run a diagnostic test to measure the pressure in your eye. Untreated glaucoma leads to permanent damage of the optic nerve and visual field loss. When identified early, glaucoma can be effectively treated.
Our primary test is the non-contact tonometer, which uses an air puff against your eyeball while you are staring at a light source. It is quick and painless. No instrument touches your eyeball. In some cases, the doctor may choose to perform a different glaucoma test that involves placing a numbing drop in your eye and using an applanation tonometer to gently press on the cornea to measure intraocular pressure. Both tests are painless and having a glaucoma test is an important part of identifying potential eye issues at an early stage.
4. Perimetry Test
If the doctor determines it necessary, he or she will perform a threshold perimetry or visual field test to check for blind spots in your peripheral vision. These blind spots can indicate that glaucoma is developing or can be used to identify potential brain damage from a stroke or tumor.
5. Cover Test
A cover test is a simple procedure for determine how your eyes are working together. The doctor will have you stare at a portion of an eye chart and alternately cover each of your eyes with a small paddle. As you do this, it allows the doctor to observe how much your eyes move to register the object you were looking at. This will be done for close-up and for far away. The cover test determines the presence of strabismus, which can cause amblyopia (lazy eye), poor depth perception and binocular vision problems.
6. Refraction Test
Starting with the base prescription determined through retinoscopy, the doctor uses a refraction test to determine your precise prescription. This is the test that most people associate with an eye exam. Using a computerized phoropter, the doctor will flip lenses using a touch screen remote with different optical powers or focal lengths in front of each eye. The doctor will ask you which of the two lenses makes your vision clearer. The doctor will continue this process until your exact prescription is determined. Due to the modern autorefractor and phoropter utilized at Poway Eyeworks, you can expect this test to be much easier and quicker than with older equipment.
7. Binocular Slit-Lamp Examination
The slit lamp used in conjunction with a biomicrosocpe allows the doctor to examine the health of your eyes. By giving the doctor a magnified view of the eye structures, the doctor can check for signs of infection or disease.
You place your chin in the chin rest and the doctor will shine a light from the slit lamp into your eye. The doctor then looks at the structures in the front of the eye, such as eye lids, cornea and iris, then at the inside of the eye (the macula, retina, iris, etc.). This examination allows the doctor to identify a wide range of potential eye diseases and conditions.
8. Dilation Procedure
Your pupils are dilated to allow the doctor to get a better view of the structures inside the eye when an abnormality is suspected. To dilate your pupils, special eye drops will be placed in your eyes. You will be asked to wait approximately 15 minutes for the drops to take effect. Once your pupils are sufficiently dilated, the doctor will examine the inner structures of your eyes. Because dilated pupils will make your eyes more sensitive to light, it is a good idea to bring sunglasses with you to minimize your light sensitivity when leaving the office. If possible, we recommend bringing a driver with you to the dilation procedure.
After Your Exam
Once your exam is complete, the doctor will review your results. If there are any potential problems, a follow-up exam will be scheduled or you will be referred to a specialist.If your eyes are healthy and you just need a prescription, you now get to pick out new eyeglass frames. Our optical team will work with you to find the right eyeglass frames for your prescription and personal style. They will also work with you to get the proper fit and to understand your lens and coating options.