What Happens During a Comprehensive Eye Exam, Exactly?
Most people know that you should have an eye exam every year, but not a lot of people understand just what happens during these appointments. It’s natural to wonder about what you’ll experience during your upcoming eye exam: what tests will be performed and why?
You can feel at ease with our doctors and be as involved in your eye care as we are — we’ve found that this can be accomplished through education. We wanted to walk you through what to expect during your next comprehensive eye exam at C Fast Optometry, so you can understand every aspect of your care and the extent to which we go to ensure that your eyes are healthy.
How is Vision Tested During an Eye Exam?
At C Fast, our Seattle comprehensive eye exams begin with a complete evaluation of your visual system, which we accomplish in a few ways:
How Is 20/20 Vision Determined?
20/20 is often considered to be the mark of optimal vision, but what do these numbers mean and how are they determined? During a visual acuity test, we evaluate how well you can see symbols or letters from a distance using the Snellen test.
The Snellen test is a chart of letters that gradually decrease in size. We’ll ask you to read the letters until you reach a size where they can’t be distinguished anymore. We’ll check how well you can see certain letters on the eye chart at both near and far distances with both eyes together as well as with each eye separately.
20/20 vision is a term used to describe the sharpness of your vision measured at 20 feet compared to what a person with good vision can see. For example, if you have 20/200 vision, it means that you would need to be standing at 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 200 feet. This measurement standard is very helpful in assessing prescription needs and the status of your eye health.
Discovering Your Vision Prescription
During this phase of the exam, your glasses or contact lens prescription will be determined with a procedure called a refraction. During your refraction, your optometrist will use a series of objective techniques to obtain a value and then refine it with your subjective responses to determine your final prescription that can be used to order lenses. This is when your optometrist will place different lenses in front of your eyes and ask you to tell them which lens offers you the clearest picture.
Checking Your Peripheral Vision and General Health
Another important component to visual function is your peripheral vision. A visual field screening test will be used to detect areas of peripheral — side — vision loss that could be caused from serious conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, head trauma, or even a brain tumor.
Assessing Your Visual Efficiency
In the second portion of your comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will measure the efficiency of your visual system. This includes testing eye alignment and the ability to sustain near focus. Even if you have 20/20 vision, you may still need a prescription if your eyes struggle to meet your visual demands comfortably.
A common example of reduced visual efficiency is experiencing eye fatigue after extended computer use. A less common example is seeing double vision while driving home after a long day at work.
Evaluating Your Eye Health
The last, and arguably most important, part of your comprehensive exam is the assessment of your eye health. Typically, your optometrist will use eye drops to dilate your eyes so that a detailed view of the internal ocular structures can be seen and checked for signs of disease.
There are some eye diseases, such as glaucoma, that typically do not have symptoms until a significant amount of vision has been lost. Our goal is to diagnose these conditions as early as possible, so that if treatment is necessary, we can begin it as early as possible. In this way, your routine eye exam could not only improve your quality of life but also potentially save your vision.
Caring for Your Entire Eye Health
Comprehensive eye exams can seem complex at first, but that’s because we take special care to evaluate your entire eye health. From checking your visual acuity, to testing your ability to focus on nearby objects, and determining your risk for disease, we want to ensure that all aspects of your eye health and vision are healthy and functioning properly. But no matter which test we’re performing or what disease we’re checking for, we’ll make sure that you’re always informed about your care.