Regular checkups at the eye doctor are important for identifying problems even before you experience symptoms. Not only do such checkups detect eye problems, exams can also detect indications of other health issues; such as, diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Children should be checked regularly from birth to school age in the event of needing corrective lenses. Young adults need occasional examinations, and then annual eye exams by the time they reach middle age and up.
On your first visit, the eye doctor collects information about your general health, a list of medications you take, and any family history of eye disease. Then, he or she uses several procedures to look at the physical health of your eyes, and to check how well they are functioning. Other procedures include:
- Vision tests where you read from eye charts with rows of random letters in various sizes, and check your perception of color.
- Eye dilation where the doctor uses a lighted instrument to look closely at the inside of your eyes; you usually are given eye drops to help open your pupils wide.
- Tonometry tests for glaucoma by administering pressure in your eye with a small puff of air.
The tests usually take about an hour. If you are given eye drops to dilate your pupils, your eyes will be extremely sensitive to light for a few hours and you’ll be given special glasses to wear. Check about the drops when you make the appointment as you might want to have someone else drive you if you are travelling by car.
While you are waiting, the eye doctor will be able to analyze the results of the tests and discuss any necessary next steps which might include:
- Prescription for glasses or contact lenses
- Referral to a specialist for follow-up on issues such as macular degeneration
- Prescription for medication such as drops for dry eyes
- Recommendations for follow-up with family doctor on other health issues
- Clean report on eye health with the recommendation for another check up in a year or two
Eyesight changes over the years as we age, so you’ll want to keep ahead of any problems by maintaining regular eye exams. New techniques, technologies, and tools to diagnose, prevent, and treat vision problems are being developed every year. If you value your eyesight, make sure to visit your eye doctor regularly.