Regular comprehensive eye exams are a must for people of all ages who want to protect and maintain healthy vision throughout their lives. However, not all eye care providers conduct eye exams in the same way. Learning about the specific tests your optometrist runs during your eye exam can help you make sure your needs are being met and bring you peace of mind.
We’ve always prioritized transparency and patient experience at Queensway Optometric. That’s why we’re happy to share the details of exactly what we look for during each comprehensive eye exam. Read on, and learn more about our process so that you can decide whether it will be right for you and your loved ones.
What Makes an Eye Exam “Comprehensive”?
Before we go any further, you must understand the difference between a comprehensive eye exam and a generic vision screening. Vision screenings are widely available in many retail stores and are typically arranged for most children by their schools. However, a vision screening is not the same as a comprehensive eye exam and should never be considered a suitable replacement for one.
The most significant difference between a vision screening and an eye exam is that only an optometrist or ophthalmologist can conduct an eye exam. These experienced eye doctors have skills and training that allows them to identify and diagnose a wide range of ocular abnormalities and other health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
Conversely, vision screenings rely on automated equipment that practically anyone can operate. This equipment can only provide specific information about the subject’s eyesight, such as whether they have refractive errors. Several serious eye diseases (including glaucoma) do not cause sight problems until they reach advanced stages, so vision screenings cannot detect these conditions.
All adults should have regular eye exams at least once every two years to help identify problems early and arrange with their eye doctor to treat or manage them before symptoms can significantly impact their lives.
What Will Your Eye Doctor Do During a Comprehensive Eye Exam?
When you come to our practice for a comprehensive eye exam, we take the following steps to keep your eyes happy and healthy:
Talking with Your Eye Doctor
No comprehensive eye exam is complete without consultation at the beginning of the process. Talking to us before we start testing allows each patient to tell us their specific needs and medical history. We also go through a questionnaire designed to ensure that there will be no blind spots in our knowledge of how best to serve you before the eye exam continues.
Checking Your Prescription
Checking your prescription allows us to recommend lenses or contacts to help you see clearly and correct refractive errors in your vision. Using a phoropter — a piece of equipment that displays various lenses for you to look through — is one method we use to measure your prescription.
As you look through each lens in the phoropter, we’ll ask questions to help determine which lenses allow you to see most clearly. As the test goes on, the questions become more specific, and the difference between the lenses becomes smaller until we eventually arrive at your ideal prescription.
Testing Eye Coordination & Alignment
Eye coordination and alignment ensure that your eyes can work together and focus effectively. Ocular motility testing is one way to assess eye coordination. Your eye doctor will either test the smooth movement of your eyes by having you follow a slow-moving target or test the rapid movement of your eyes by asking you to switch your focus between two targets in different locations.
We typically test for alignment by using a Hirschberg Test. During this test, we hold a light source in front of your eyes and compare the reflex in each cornea to look for differences.
Testing Depth Perception
Depth perception is what allows you to recognize the three-dimensionality of objects. Stereopsis tests are effective ways to assess depth perception.
During a stereopsis test, we might ask you to wear a pair of 3D glasses and focus on a series of test patterns with circles on them. We will then ask you to tell us which circles appear to be nearest to you and use your answers’ accuracy to gauge your depth perception.
Assessing Your Colour Vision
Colour perception is vital for many everyday tasks, such as driving. The Ishihara Colour Vision Test is one way that we may check for colourblindness during your eye exam.
The Ishihara Colour Vision Test uses a series of multicolored patterns that each contain numbers. People with normal colour vision will be able to discern the numbers in each pattern, while those with varying degrees of colourblindness will not.
Checking Your Eye Pressure
Eye pressure is a key indicator of glaucoma, which is a leading cause of blindness in people over 60. We generally check your eye pressure using non-contact tonometry (NCT) testing, also known as the “puff of air” test.
During NCT testing, your eye doctor will use a machine to blow a small puff of air into each eye and measure its resistance. We use the resistance to find your intraocular pressure, which can indicate glaucoma when it is higher than average.
Evaluating the Overall Health of Your Eyes
The tests above can tell us a great deal about your eyes’ health, but we may also run other tests if we feel that you are at risk for specific conditions or diseases. The more you tell us about your medical history before we start testing, the better we can determine which tests you need.
Eye Exams Keep Your Eyes Happy and Healthy
Regular eye exams with qualified eye doctors remain the best way to identify numerous health problems early and prevent them from impacting your quality of life. Know what to expect when you come for an eye exam at our practice, and let us help you see clearly for many years to come.