It’s likely that you undergo regular vision screenings every year or so, particularly if you wear corrective lenses. “While vision screening is ideal for identifying vision problems,” says Dr. Anne Sara Steiner, MD, Director of the Northwell Health Ocular Service Center, “it cannot take the place of a comprehensive eye examination designed to identify even the earliest stages of eye disease.” This is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults with no signs of risk factors for eye disease, get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40 and regular follow-up exams based on your doctor’s recommendation.
Comprehensive Eye Examination
While a typical vision exam is relatively short and focused on vision correction, a comprehensive eye examination is far more detailed and thorough. During this type of exam, which can take up to two hours, you will undergo:
- A complete health and medication history and vision history
- An eye health evaluation
- Visual acuity testing to determine sharpness and clarity of both near and distance vision
- Visual field testing to determine your level of peripheral vision
- Evaluation of pupil size and pupillary responses
- Evaluation of eye movement
Using a device called a slit lamp, the front part of your eyes, as well as your eyelids, will be checked. Due in large part to our increasing use of electronic devices, dry eye has become a very common problem. If you experience frequent burning, itching or redness or have sensitivity to light, make sure to mention this to your doctor. Signs of dry eye will be identified during the exam, and there are effective preventive strategies and treatments for it.
You will also undergo an exam through dilated pupils which looks at the back of the eye, including the retina, macula and the optic nerve for signs of disease. During this part of the exam, drops are placed in each eye to widen the pupil and allow more light to enter the eye. Sight-threatening eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, can be identified.
With each part of the exam, your doctor will build a complete picture of your eye health and will work with you to make the best decisions on any treatment necessary, as well as preventive care and the suggested schedule for follow-up exams.
Ahead of your exam
Your comprehensive eye exam should be an important part of your ongoing healthcare maintenance. To maximize its value, schedule sufficient time for the entire exam and come prepared with questions and concerns. Your vision is incredibly important to protect, but with proactive eye exams, you can greatly increase your chances of perserving your sight for a lifetime.
Want to learn more about eye health? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.