What a Comprehensive Eye Exam Should Include

Getting your yearly eye exam is an important part of staying healthy. At the age of 40, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends getting a baseline eye exam. If you have vision problems, underlying health conditions or are at risk for eye disease, you don’t need to wait until 40 to have an exam.

What is Included with a Yearly Eye Exam?

As you get older, your risk for developing an eye disease increases. During your visit, an ophthalmologist checks for things such as cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. A comprehensive eye exam takes 45 to 90 minutes and includes your:

Medical History. The first part of your eye exam will include your medical history. This helps the ophthalmologist better understand which eye conditions you may be at risk for.

Visual Acuity. This is the part of the eye exam where you read a standardized eye chart to determine how far away you can see. Both eyes will be tested independently as well as together.

Pupils. Your ophthalmologist will shine a light in your eyes to evaluate how your pupils respond. Your pupils should get smaller, not larger.

Side Vision. Side vision is easy to lose without noticing, so it’s important to have this checked. If you have a loss of side vision, it’s possible that this could be from glaucoma.

Eye Movement. The purpose of tracking eye movement is to ensure that you have proper eye alignment and ocular muscle function. Your eye specialist may have you track objects to see how your eyes function.

Eye Pressure. This air-puff test determines your risk for glaucoma. A small puff of air is blown into your eye to measure the internal ocular pressure. Elevated eye pressure is a sign of glaucoma.

Front Part of Eye. To look closely at the health and condition of the front part of your eye, an eye specialist uses a slit lamp. With this light, the doctor can assess your eyelids, cornea, iris and lens and look for problems such as a scarred or scratched cornea.

Retina and Optic Nerve. As you get older, a comprehensive eye exam may require dilation. This widens the eyes so that the doctor can see into the retina and optic nerve.

Prescription for Corrective Lenses. The phoropter includes different lenses to help your eye doctor determine which prescription of lenses or glasses will help you see best.

Eye exams are nothing to fret about! They are typically comfortable and can be done in under an hour. It’s possible that you may need additional testing if the eye specialist happens to see areas of concern. Diagnosing an eye disease in its early stages is the best way to protect your eyesight and avoid permanent vision loss.