What are comprehensive eye exams? A comprehensive eye exam, sometimes called a routine eye exam, is one that is designed to carefully examine all of the eye for good health and function. Doing this annually, for many patients, is part of their annual eye check to get new eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions.
People who do not have visual acuity problems should get them regularly, especially those over age 65, as age-related vision problems such as glaucoma increase. People of African American or Mexican descent should have comprehensive eye exams annual after the age of 40 because they have in increased risk of glaucoma.
Five Basic Parts To Comprehensive Eye Exams
Eye exams generally have five parts. First, the doctor should take a thorough medical history. Tonometry, dilation, and a visual field and visual acuity test should follow. Tonometry is usually a test involving a machine that sends a puff of air towards the eye. This test checks the pressure inside the eye to make sure a dangerous and vision threatening condition known as glaucoma is not present there. Unchecked glaucoma can damage the optic nerve and cause blindness.
Dilation of the pupil opens the eye to a more thorough examination, allowing the doctor to see more of the retina. Retinal examination allows the doctor to check for diabetic or high blood pressure induced changes in the eye, and for macular degeneration, glaucoma signs, and other problems.
Glaucoma is a change in pressure inside the eye due to blockage in the normal flow of the fluid there. There are two major types, known as angle-closure and open angle glaucoma. Angle-closure glaucoma is very painful and sudden, and is a medical emergency. Immediate drainage of the eye must be done or loss of vision due to damage to the optic nerve results. Open angle glaucoma is most commonly found during an eye exam and can be treated with medication.
Macular Degeneration Test
AMD or Age-related macular degeneration is a common cause of loss of vision in people over the age of 50. Macular degeneration shows up as spots, or drusen in the eye around the macular spot. Symptoms appear as loss of vision in the center of the vision.
Diabetic Retinopathy Test
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by changes in the blood vessels in the back of the eye. Diabetes causes the blood vessels to be leaky and to grow more of themselves, and these changes cause the retina to become thickened. This process is also damaging and reduces visual acuity.
Visual Fields And Visual Acuity Test
Visual field and visual acuity tests are usually the last tests the doctor does. Visual field tests insure that the retina and the eye muscles work to their full range, including peripheral vision. Visual acuity tests tell the doctor how well the eyes see at different distances. This test is what the doctor uses to determine if glasses or contacts, or other vision correction methods, are necessary.
For questions about eye health or comprehensive eye exams, please contact Jewell Eye Inc. for an appointment. Jewell Eye Inc. has locations available in Marlborough MA, Worcester MA, and Providence RI.