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Medically reviewed on 7/12/2019 by Dr. Nassim Assefi
Annual Eye Exam
An annual eye exam is a set of tests and procedures designed to examine the health and function of your eyes. Ophthalmologists and optometrists use a variety of tests to determine the health of your eyes, ranging from a simple procedure to examine eye movement and vision, to complex tests such as examining the tiny structures inside your eyes. These tests aren’t just done to gauge the quality of your vision, but also to safeguard general health and well-being. The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus created childhood eye screening guidelines that help identify the right time for your child to get his or her eyes screened.
An annual eye exam can be used to identify signs of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia, as well as early symptoms of several severe eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment. With glaucoma, the symptoms are hard to detect if one doesn’t undergo checkups annually, as the symptoms might only show up once the patient starts experiencing vision loss.
Sometimes, the patient discovers serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and high cholesterol through an annual eye checkup. The treatment plan for each patient may vary depending on the assessment of your doctor. Having perfect vision should not deter you from undergoing an annual eye exam. Just like any other yearly checkup, regular eye examinations ensure that you and your loved ones are in perfect health.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that every adult should get a complete eye exam done at the age of 40, as this is the age that early signs of disease and vision changes may start appearing.
What constitutes an annual eye exam?
An annual eye exam lasts between 45 and 90 minutes. The exam is a series of simple tests and questions that usually includes the following:
- Medical history: The doctor might seek details about your vision and general medical history. This includes asking details about family history, the medications you take and whether you wear corrective lenses.
- Vision acuity test: The doctor might tell you to read an eye chart to determine the quality of your vision. Usually, you cover one eye while the other is being tested.
- Phoroptor: The doctor might ask you to view the eye chart through a “phoroptor,” which is a device used to determine the best eyeglasses or contact lenses for your eyes.
- Pupil test: A bright beam of light might be flashed into your eyes to gauge how your pupils react. They usually get smaller when exposed to bright light. If the pupils widen or do not react, it could be a cause of concern.
- Side vision: This test is used to determine the quality of your side vision. Losing side vision is harder to detect without this test and is one of the signs of glaucoma.
- Ocular motility: This test evaluates the movement of your eyes by checking whether your eyes are aligned. It can help determine whether your eye muscles are functioning correctly.
- Tonometry: This test measures the pressure within your eyes. The ophthalmologist might apply a pressure-sensitive tip against your eyes to test it.
- The front part of the eye: The eyelid, cornea, iris and lens are lit by a slit-lamp microscope to check for cataracts, scars or scratches.
- Retina and optic nerve exam: The doctor might use eye drops to dilate and widen your pupil to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of any damage.
What are some quick tips to help you with an annual eye exam?
When preparing for an annual eye exam:
- Write down questions you might have for your doctor beforehand, so you don’t forget to ask them.
- Contact your vision insurance provider to see if the treatment is covered.
- Ensure that you carry your glasses and contact lenses to your visit.
- Bring your sunglasses for your trip back home to help with any light sensitivity.
Questions and answers about annual eye tests
Who performs an annual eye exam?
Comprehensive eye exams are performed by an ophthalmologist, as they are medical doctors who are trained to diagnose and treat diseases, in addition to writing prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses. Optometrists are also trained to evaluate your vision and prescribe corrective lenses, however for complex problems, it is recommended that you choose an ophthalmologist.
Do I require eye exams after LASIK treatment?
Yes, you will need regular eye tests to make sure your vision remains stable after your LASIK surgery. Apart from vision quality, eye tests are also designed to test serious conditions like glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic eye disease. Additionally, LASIK surgery alters the thickness and the shape of the cornea, which requires periodic monitoring of the front of the eye by way of annual eye exams.
Where can I find a doctor for an annual eye exam near me?
At Zocdoc.com! You can book an appointment with top-rated eye specialists who perform annual eye exams in your location. Booking is simple, secure and free!
How much does an annual eye exam cost?
Costs of treatment can vary significantly based on your location, insurance provider and other factors.
The content herein is provided for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Medical information changes constantly, and therefore the content on this website should not be assumed to be current, complete or exhaustive. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, please call your doctor or 9-1-1 (in the United States) immediately.
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