From annual eye exams for children to routine eye examinations for adults who are having vision changes, eye testing is a valuable routine exam that can greatly benefit your overall health. At Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA we know that testing your vision is part of preventative medicine to ensure that all of your health needs are being met. So, what should you expect from this routine exam?
What Should You Expect From Eye Testing?
A routine eye exam is more simple than you might expect. Essentially, all this test does is determine whether or not you have 20/20 vision and any obvious physical issues with the eyes, such as watery or dry eyes. These basic tests are often a stepping stone for helping you get prescriptions that you need to correct your vision.
The most common form of an eye exam is to stand several feet away from a poster board arranged with random letters ranging from very large to very small. One eye will be covered while you read as many letters as you can; the smaller the letter you can read, the better your vision is. If your doctor determines that your vision is struggling to read average-sized letters or even larger letters, you may need to have your vision problems addressed.
Does Eye Testing Hurt?
No, eye exams do not hurt. The basic test is routine for children and young adults and does not require any deeper examination of the eye unless a specific problem is identified. That said, if you have symptoms that may indicate more serious eye or vision problems, different tests may be necessary, such as an eye pressure test. Depending on the type of eye exam, numbing eye drops may be used so you will be comfortable for the test.
What Tests Are Required for Prescriptions?
If you’ve never had a glasses or contact lens prescription, then you might be surprised to learn that finding the right prescription for you is essentially another testing process. To pinpoint your exact prescription, a device with different lens strengths will be used over each eye while you read letters and identify which lens strength gives you the best clarity. This process can take several minutes to complete.
How Often Should You Have Eye Exams?
There are a few factors that may determine how often you should have your eyes checked, such as any previous vision problems you have, your age, and your overall health. People who have certain risk factors, such as diabetes, may need special exams done more frequently than others.
Similarly, if you already have eye or vision problems, your physician will likely ask you to complete routine tests at least once every one to two years to keep track of any changes in your vision and any updates for your lens prescription.
Why Age Matters
The American Optometric Association encourages people to have eye exams once every two years for those who are between the ages of 18 and 64. By age 65, it’s generally recommended that you have an eye check-up every year, especially because eye conditions such as cataracts tend to form around this age.
Children and people younger than 18 may need to have eye testing done once a year as part of back-to-school requirements. Sometimes, these tests are done by your family doctor and shared with the school; other times, the school does these tests themselves. Children may experience rapid vision changes that make it difficult to keep up in school, so it’s important to correct any vision problems early for the betterment of the child.
Do You Still Need Exams If You Have Good Vision?
Many people have good vision or 20/20 vision, so are eye exams still necessary? Contrary to what most would believe, it’s still important to have routine exams even if you’ve never had bad vision. As part of the aging process, it’s possible that your vision might change as you get older – and some people may even experience vision changes because of their occupations.
It’s also important to remember that eye exams aren’t only used to detect vision problems. These tests are also commonly used to identify other areas of concern, like dry eyes, watery eyes, eye infections, and other conditions. The health of your eyes can even be a common indicator for other health concerns, such as diabetes.
What Are Different Types of Eye Tests?
Aside from a visual acuity test, which is the exam you take by reading letters printed at different sizes from a distance, there are a couple of common tests that are used to examine the health and function of your eyes. Most of the time, these tests are performed at the same time as part of a comprehensive evaluation. These tests may include:
Eye Muscle Test
This test assesses the muscles that control the movement of the eye, as well as the alignment of the eye and any problems, such as a lazy eye. Most people are familiar with this test. During this evaluation, your doctor will ask you to follow the movement of an object as the object is moved up, down, and side to side. This allows your physician to look for any weakness in the muscles controlling the eye.
Visual Field Test
This test is all about assessing your peripheral vision, which actually makes up most of your visual field. Your peripheral vision is an essential component of healthy vision, so there are a few variations for how this test is performed. The most common is a confrontation exam, which is when your doctor sits in front of you while you cover one eye and look ahead; during the test, you will tell the doctor when you see movement in your peripheral vision.
Color Vision Testing
Some people may have color blindness or poor color vision without knowing. Color blindness is often passed down through genetics, but eye diseases, medicines, and some brain injuries can also cause poor color vision. For this type of test, you will be shown patterns made with multi-colored dots. Those who do not have color blindness will be able to identify numbers or shapes in the dot patterns; those who have color blindness will not be able to identify any patterns.
When Will You Know the Results of Your Exams?
In general, you will be able to know the results of your eye testing on the same day of your examination. It’s fairly easy for doctors to determine whether or not you have eye or vision problems. If there is any indication that you need additional tests, you may be scheduled for more complex examinations, such as glaucoma screening, retinal examinations, cataract examinations, or refraction assessments.
What Happens After Your Exams?
After your exams are complete, there are a few things that can happen. If your tests determine that you have good vision, then you won’t need to follow up on your results until it’s time for your next exam. If your tests have identified any eye health concerns or vision challenges, then your doctor will pursue different treatments.
For example, for those who need vision correction, you may be recommended for prescription glasses, contact lenses, or corrective surgery depending on your age, preferences, and the degree of your vision problems. If you have an eye infection or an eye condition that requires ongoing treatment, you may be prescribed medicated eye drops or even referred to an eye specialist for further treatment.
Be Proactive About Your Eye Health
All people are good candidates for eye testing, regardless of age or gender. In fact, it’s best if eye exams can be performed early and often to keep track of any vision problems. Even children as young as three years old should have routine eye tests every two years, and these tests should continue every two years until age 64. Eye testing is non-invasive and can easily be completed in a single appointment.
Whether or not you’ve ever had vision problems, routine eye tests are a good idea for everyone. Our vision is essential for many daily tasks, so identifying any vision or eye health concerns can be immensely beneficial for your overall health and quality of life. If you’re ready to be proactive about your eye health, please contact Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA to schedule your first appointment today. We look forward to helping you keep your vision healthy.