There are few things more important than keeping your eyes healthy. One of the best ways to keep your eyes healthy at any age is by having eye exams. Routine eye care at Maine Eye Center includes eye exams with our talented team.
What to Expect at an Eye Exam
An eye exam will measure and test your eyes to evaluate your vision. Here are some of the tests and measurements you can expect during your eye exam:
Visual acuity is a test that measures how sharp your vision is at various distances. You’ll read letters or look at pictures on an eye chart (referred to as a Snellen chart). A visual acuity test will check how well you can see up close, at a distance, and intermediate distances.
Eye Alignment and Movement
Another common test measured at your eye exam is how your eyes align and move. To do this, your eye doctor will have you follow a pen or a light using only your eyes. This checks how your eyes work together and move properly.
Tonometry measures intraocular pressure (IOP) inside your eyes. If the pressure inside your eyes is too high, this can be a sign of glaucoma.
Tonometry can use a small probe that gently touches the surface of your eye or a puff of air blown at your eye. Neither method is painful.
Peripheral Vision Test
Your ophthalmologist may test your peripheral vision by having you look straight ahead. They’ll have you identify when objects come into view from the side. This helps indicate if you have normal side (peripheral) vision.
Focusing and Testing Your Prescription
A vital part of any eye exam is testing your prescription. Your eye doctor will use an instrument called a phoropter.
The phoropter has various lenses that check how your eye can focus. You’ll look through the phoropter and tell your ophthalmologist which lens combination makes the chart look clearest.
Using the phoropter helps your eye doctor determine your refractive error (if you have one) and determine your prescription for glasses or contact lenses if necessary.
Vision Health Exam
During your vision health exam, your eye doctor will closely examine the anatomy of your eyes. They’ll look at the inside of your eyes and the front of your eyes for any signs of visual issues or abnormalities.
They may use eye drops to dilate your pupils to see a more expansive view inside your eyes.
Why Do Eye Exams Matter?
Eye exams are the only way to keep your eyes healthy. They also help detect vision issues like glaucoma in their earliest stages before symptoms or vision loss may have occurred.
If you have an already diagnosed eye condition, eye exams help your Maine Eye Center ophthalmologist monitor their progression. For patients wearing glasses or contact lenses, eye exams ensure you can receive up-to-date prescriptions that stay accurate over time.
Eye exams check for signs of eye infections, dry eye, or other external eye problems that you may be unaware of having. Eye exams are also able to screen for systemic disease and can reveal conditions like diabetes, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure, and brain tumors.
The eyes are often the first part of the body to show symptoms with these and other conditions, making them a crucial component in staying healthy. Comprehensive eye exams are your best defense against vision-stealing eye conditions with few symptoms, like glaucoma.
Committing to eye exams regularly is an excellent way to protect your vision as you age. Age-related vision loss is not inevitable and can be monitored. Eye exams allow your eye doctor to detect age-related eye conditions that could lead to vision loss later in life.
Common Vision Disorders
The most common vision disorders in patients are known as refractive errors. Refractive errors include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
Common vision disorders detected during eye exams include:
Nearsightedness is a refractive error that occurs when the eye is slightly longer than usual or the cornea is too curved. If you’re nearsighted, images will focus in front of the retina instead of right on it.
Patients with nearsightedness will typically wear glasses or contact lenses to counteract having blurry vision when looking at things at a distance. Wearing these visual aids corrects the refractive error by bending light before it enters the eye.
Light bending before it enters the eye helps images focus appropriately on the retina. Nearsightedness usually begins in childhood and progresses through the teen years.
Farsightedness is another refractive error. If you’re farsighted, you can see things at a distance clearly, but looking at things up close will be blurry or fuzzy.
Farsightedness occurs when the eyeball is shorter than it should be. Farsighted people will see images focusing behind the retina instead of directly on it.
Visual aids like glasses or contact lenses use a convex lens to bend light. Bending light helps images focus as they should on the retina.
Many infants and young children are farsighted, with vision improving by the time they are 5 or 6 years old. However, adults can also be farsighted, with the refractive error becoming more common after age 50 in older adults.
Astigmatism is a refractive error that occurs when the cornea has an irregular curvature. When this happens, you’ll experience blurry vision when you look at anything at any distance.
This includes up close, at a distance, and intermediate ranges. When you have astigmatism, images focus on more than one spot, resulting in overlapping images that distort vision.
Using visual aids like glasses or contacts helps by compensating for the cornea’s irregular curvature, which allows light to focus as it should on the retina.
Presbyopia is an age-related eye condition that occurs when the eye’s natural lens loses its flexibility gradually over time. When this happens, it becomes more challenging to focus on things right in front of you.
You may find that you can no longer easily read a newspaper, look at a menu in a restaurant, or knit a sweater for your grandchildren without using reading glasses. Common symptoms of presbyopia include eye strain, headaches, and blurry vision when completing up-close tasks.
Eye exams check for common vision disorders, among others. Adults 40 and older should have eye exams every 1-2 years. After turning 60, seniors should have eye exams annually. Talk to your eye doctor to determine the best schedule for scheduling eye exams for you and your family.
Do you need to schedule an eye exam? Request yours at Maine Eye Center in Portland, ME, today!