Why is it important to get a comprehensive eye exam?
Many believe that if they are seeing fine then they don’t need to see the eye doctor. That kind of belief leaves a lot up to chance. Visual acuity is important, however, a comprehensive eye exam with an ophthalmologist such as Dr. Emmel, evaluates for a lot more than how well you can see on a given day. The goal of a comprehensive eye exam is to evaluate ocular health. Having good ocular health ensures that you keep on seeing well for years to come.
During your comprehensive eye exam Dr. Emmel will check for:
- Refractive errors – nearsighted, farsighted, and astigmatism
- Focusing problems such as presbyopia
- Other problems that may interfere with how well you see such as strabismus, amblyopia, and binocular vision.
- Eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration
- conditions such as dry eye
- Other diseases that may affect vision such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
Testing performed may vary from person-to-person based on medical history and family history but a typical comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Emmel includes the following:
- Visual Acuity testing – visual acuity assesses the sharpness of your vision; this test is performed at the office using a variation of the Snellen eye chart.
- Visual field testing – visual field tests are used to evaluate for blind spots and peripheral vision loss. This test is usually performed for individuals with glaucoma, those who’ve suffered a stroke, or those on long term medications such as Plaquenil (long term improper dosage of Plaquenil can damage the macula giving rise to a condition known as toxic maculopathy)
- Autorefractor – This is the first test performed for comprehensive exams at the office. The autorefractor, through the wonders of technology, can approximate your glasses prescription.
- Refraction – this test is performed to determine your eye glass or contact lens prescription. The test is performed by Dr. Emmel or one of his technicians. A device called a phoropter is used; during the testing Dr. Emmel or a technician will ask you to decide between different lens combination: “is it better ‘A’ or ‘B’? … ‘one’ or ‘two’?”
- Dry eye testing – if it is suspected that you have dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) Dr. Emmel will perform tests to determine whether you do or do not have dry eyes.
- Slit-Lamp Examination – the slit-lamp is a device used to access the health of the internal structures of the eye as well as the ocular adnexa (these are accessory visual structures including eyebrow, eyelids, and the lacrimal apparatus).
- Glaucoma Tests – glaucoma testing consists of a few different tests; the most used test is tonometry which measures the pressure within the eye. Corneal pachymetry measures the thickness of the central region of the cornea; people with thin central corneal thickness are at risk for glaucoma. OCT (optical coherence tomography) testing is used to gather information about the optic nerve as well as information on the nerve fibers that make up the retina.
- Dilation of the pupil – a comprehensive eye exam is not complete without dilation of the pupils. Dilating the pupils allows Dr. Emmel to get a clear view of the inside of your eyes. Once he can see into the eyes, he will check the optic nerve, the macula, and blood vessels. Additionally, Dr. Emmel will look for signs of other systemic conditions that may affect the eyes such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Many eye diseases do not show early symptoms. It is not until these diseases have progressed to later stages that symptoms will show up. A comprehensive eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases early before damage is done to the eye.