A comprehensive eye exam includes many diagnostic tests and procedures which are used to evaluate the quality of your vision and the health of your eyes,. Here are some tests you are likely to encounter at your annual eye examination:
a. Autorefraction and Aberrometer
These are automated tests performed by the optometric technician prior to seeing the doctor. These tests help your doctor determine your eyeglass prescription. An autorefractor measures the way an image is focused on the retina, without the need for you to give any response, giving your doctor a good starting point for your refraction. An aberrometer uses advanced wavefront technology to “detect microscopic irregularities of that eye that can cause distortions. Oftentimes, these distortions compromise your quality of vision and affect things such as depth perception, crispness, contrast, color perception and even nighttime vision.”
A method of determining focusing errors of the eye in which light is shined through the pupil and the reflected beam is measured. Based on the way the light reflects from your eye, your doctor can obtain a good approximation of your glasses prescription without you saying a word. This is a particularly useful test for children and patients who are unable to accurately answer the doctor’s questions.
The refraction is the primary test your doctor uses to obtain your exact eyeglass prescription. The phoropter, which is an instrument that contains many different lens powers, is placed in front of you. A screen of letters is set up at the other side of the room. Through a series of questions, you and your doctor work together to find your clearest possible vision.
d. Binocularity Testing – Focusing, Eye teaming
20/20 vision does not always equal 20/happy vision. Your vision evaluation includes testing to measure your focusing abilities and your eye teaming skills. Your doctor can detect subtle misalignments that can interfere with your eyes working together properly and may be the cause of such anomalies as strabismus (eye turn), amblyopia (“lazy eye”) or simple eyestrain or fatigue.
e. Slit Lamp Examination
The slit lamp is a microscope used by your doctor to examine the health of your eyes. It gives a highly magnified view of the structures of your eye. This allows for a thorough evaluation of the both the front and back of your eyes, including the cornea, conjunctiva, iris, lens and retina.
f. Tonometry (Glaucoma Testing)
This test is used to measure the internal pressure of your eye. Elevated pressure can be indicative of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease which causes damage to the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss. Elevated pressure in your eye is not painful or uncomfortable. The only way to detect it is by special testing, making it that much more important to come in on a yearly basis for your comprehensive eye examination.
g. Dilated Fundus Examination/Extended Ophthalmoscopy
Dilation is an important part of your eye exam as it allows for thorough evaluation of the back of your eye, specifically the retina. The pupils are widened with the use of an eye drop. Difficulty focusing and increased light sensitivity are the main side effects of the drops, lasting between 2-4 hours. Disposable sunglasses will be provided to you prior to leaving the office, ensuring visual comfort during your drive home.
Thorough examination of your retina is essential for people of all ages. It is especially important for people who have risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes or a family history of eye disease.