AN Eye TEST: Definition And What To Expect
Why is it important to have your eyes tested?
Regardless of physical condition or age, it is essential to have regular eye tests to, keep you glasses up to date, to check for eye conditions which otherwise can go undetected or just for your peace of mind.
Your optometrist will test your vision to determine the power required for your glasses as well as check for common eye diseases, assess how your eyes work together and look for signs in your eyes as indicators of your overall health.
The difference between a vision screening and a comprehensive eye exam
A common mistake many people make is to assume that a vision screening is actually a comprehensive eye exam, this is actually not the case.
Vision screenings are basic eye tests that help identify whether you have any problem with your vision but they don't test for eye diseases or the underlying causes of any vision problem. It does however, identify whether you should get a comprehensive eye exam and should not be seen as a substitute for one.
A comprehensive eye examination on the other hand is performed by an optometrist and will involve a thorough examination of all aspects of your vision. Your optometrist will then make recommendations based on your individual visual needs. This includes prescription lenses, eye exercises, eye drops or ointment, and even referral to an ophthalmologist for treatment or surgery as required .
What to expect from a vision screening?
A vision screening is a short series of tests compared to a full eye exam. It is often a precursor as it identifies whether you have a vision problem rather than determining what the issue is.
Vision screenings are relatively easy to do and are often performed in places like schools by nurses, optometrists and even optometry students. Medical professionals are also quite capable of performing a vision screening.
The screening is usually a set of simple assessments such as:
- Testing your visual acuity using an eye chart either with "Snellen" letters or for children who can't read yet, what is called the "Tumbling E" chart
- Testing your pupil reactions to light
- Eye coordination using simple charts or other basic tests
- Stereopsis (depth perception /3D)
- Some vision screenings also test for colour vision using charts like the Ishihara Colour Vision test
As these tests are relatively simple and not that comprehensive, it is important to provide as much feedback about your vision or that of your child, as possible. Sharing any vision difficulties, injuries to your eyes, or a family history of vision conditions, will be helpful to the person conducting the screening. They can then look out for tell-tale signs of possible conditions and send you for comprehensive eye exam if required.
What to expect from an eye test
A eye test may vary slightly depending on your age or specific needs, but most commonly include these tests:
- Visual Acuity: This is a test to measure the sharpness of your vision.
- Refraction: This finds your prescription, which may or may not need to be made into glasses
- Colour Vision: A screening test to check your colour vision to rule out colour vision defect.
- Cover Test: This is a simple, easy way to test if your eyes work well together.
- Ocular Motility or Eye Movements: This determines how well your eyes can follow a moving object as well as fixate on different targets. Issues with eye movement can cause eye strain and lead to difficulties in reading.
- Glaucoma: Most Glaucoma tests involve testing the pressure in your eye. Most eye exams perform some form of glaucoma test.
- Retinal Photography: Many optometrists today use high resolution digital cameras to take images of the back of your eye in order to be able to look at changes over time and as a good record of the state of your retina
- Slit Lamp Exam: This is a specific test your optometrist uses to examine the structure of your eye under high magnification. This helps detect a wide range of eye conditions and diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal ulcers and diabetic retinopathy.
Comprehensive eye exams have many more tests, but these are the most common and cover a wide spectrum of potential eye conditions.
You can get an eye exam at an optometrist or ophthalmologist clinic. It is important to book an appointment first to make sure they can accommodate you.
At the eye exam, you can expect the optometrist to take a comprehensive medical history to figure out what they should be looking out for. These questions can range from your family history, past and present medical issues, medications you might be on, injuries, and other factors. It is essential to be as forthcoming and thorough as possible with your answers to ensure that the test covers all likely possibilities.
Eye Tests and Age
When we are young or in peak physical condition, we often tend to overlook having our eye health checked. However, this shouldn’t be the case as eye problems can present at any age or physical fitness level.
Children should have regular eye tests because impaired vision can impact a child’s ability to learn and grow academically and socially. Children today have started using digital devices before they start walking. Extended use of these screens can cause eye strain or tiredness, this can also be a pointer to other issues with their vision.
There is a correlation between near vision tasks and lack of outdoor activity and the significant increase in myopia among children in the world. This makes eye exams for children essential to identify and treat vision problems as soon as they arise.
As you grow older, regular eye exams are essential as adults are prone to diseases that may cause blindness or other serious eye-related issues. Eye exams can easily identify common causes of blindness such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Occurrences of these conditions increase significantly as we age. Vision loss often can be prevented or reduced with early detection from regular eye exams.
Speak to an optician now to find out how you can arrange for regular eye exams.
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