Comprehensive Eye Exam
Regular eye exams are important in maintaining eye health. During a comprehensive eye exam, eye diseases or other abnormalities that are not yet causing symptoms can be detected. Early intervention is crucial in preventing vision loss from a disease such as glaucoma or diabetic eye disease, which may not cause symptoms until significant and irreversible damage has taken place. Early detection of eye problems gives a patient a choice of treatment options and reduces the risk of permanent damage.
Benefits of an Eye Exam
A comprehensive eye exam should be performed once every year, particularly after age 65. Children should have periodic eye exam tests to ensure that their vision is normal so that their schoolwork does not suffer. Older adults are at higher risk for eye conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts. During a comprehensive eye exam, simple refractive errors are detected, and serious eye problems or diseases, including the following, are diagnosed:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Strabismus (crossed eyes or eyes that turn in or out or up or down)
- Eye-tracking difficulty
- Diabetic retinopathy
Even in younger, healthy adults who are asymptomatic, a regular eye exam is essential. Serious medical conditions, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure, can be detected, allowing patients to seek treatment early.
Eye Exam Procedure
A comprehensive eye exam differs from a vision screening. The latter only tests visual acuity and is commonly performed by a school nurse, optician, pediatrician or another healthcare provider.
In order to evaluate the eyes thoroughly and detect any problems, the following tests are performed:
- Visual acuity
- Visual field when indicated
- Retinal examination under pupil dilation with retinal photography when indicated
- Slit-lamp Exam
- Tonometry (tests intraocular pressure (IOP))
- Keratometry (measures the curvature of the cornea) and topography as appropriate
- Refraction (determination of the eyeglass prescription)
- Tear film osmolarity (when indicated in dry eye disease)
Based on the diagnostic findings of the eye exam, eyeglasses or contact lenses, medication for infection or inflammation, and vitamins or other supplements may be recommended. In some cases, eye surgery may be necessary or advised.
Common Refractive Errors
The most common eye conditions diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam involve refractive errors that cause blurry vision. These conditions affect millions of people in the United States and often get progressively worse as patients age. Refractive errors are easily treated.
Also known as nearsightedness or shortsightedness, myopia is a condition of the eyes in which nearby objects are clear, and distant objects are blurry. Almost a third of people in the United States have some degree of nearsightedness. In myopia, the eye is too long. Myopia is corrected with minus lenses or concave lenses.
Also known as farsightedness, hyperopia is a condition of the eyes in which the focus on distant objects may be better than the focus on objects closer to the eye, making nearby objects appear blurry. However, in adults with hyperopia both distance and near objects are blurred. Children may often compensate for hyperopia by dialing plus power in the eye via accommodation which is our ability to focus at near. The eye is designed to focus images directly on the surface of the retina; with hyperopia, light rays focus behind the surface of the retina, producing a blurry image. Hyperopic eyes are shorter than normal. The hyperopic refractive error is corrected with plus or convex lenses.
Astigmatism occurs when the eye has two different curves so it is shaped like a football on the surface instead of a baseball. There are two types of astigmatism: corneal, in which the shape of the cornea (the clear covering of the eye) is astigmatic and lenticular, in which the lens is imperfectly shaped. Corneal astigmatism is more common. Astigmatism can result in blurred vision at any distance.
Presbyopia, meaning “old eye,” is a condition in which the eyes lose their ability to focus on close objects. It is considered a normal part of the aging process. Symptoms typically begin when patients are between 40 and 45 years old. Presbyopia is the loss of accommodation or the ability to dial plus power into the eye via muscles inside the eye. It occurs because the lens stiffens with age.
All of these vision conditions can be effectively treated with either eyeglasses, contact lenses or laser vision correction. Corrective lenses may need to be used only during certain activities, such as reading, watching television or driving, or may be needed at all times. A comprehensive eye exam is essential in checking for vision problems, eye diseases, refractive errors and overall health. How frequently the eyes should be examined is based on the patient’s age and specific circumstances.
Dr. David Aizuss from Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley proudly serves patients in Encino, West Hills, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Sherman Hills, and Reseda, CA and surrounding areas with comprehensive and advanced eye exams. Call (818) 907-1038 to schedule an eye exam appointment today!