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Better One or Better Two? Your Routine Eye Exam

Just about all of us can relate to the sometimes exhausting feeling of our daily routine. With our busy schedules, the thought of adding another appointment to the list probably doesn’t sound very appealing. That said, even if you don’t have vision problems, an annual eye exam is something that shouldn’t fall by the wayside. During the one-hour appointment, your eye doctor will perform a variety of important tests to ensure your eyes are healthy and working properly. Sounds hard to beat!

Before heading out the door, make sure you have your health insurance card and glasses (if you already have a prescription). The exam usually begins with a check of your visual acuity. This entails a number of tests to make sure you can see correctly and will ultimately determine if you need glasses or contacts.

A confrontation visual field test will then check your basic central and peripheral vision. Your optometrist will ask you to cover one eye and look straight ahead. He or she will then ask you speak up when you see their hand or another object enter into your line of vision. Next, your doctor will verify your eyes work well as a team. You’ll focus on near and distant items while your doctor checks for a lazy eye, crookedness or a decrease in depth perception.

In addition to your vision, your optometrist cares about how well your eyes react to light and dark.  He or she will shine bright lights in one or both eyes and watch them dilate and constrict. This pupillary test can also reveal neurological problems as the muscles controlling your pupils connect to your brain.

An increase in eye pressure puts you at risk for glaucoma, a disease which damages your optic nerve and may lead to permanent blindness. Your doctor will check your eye pressure by putting a small drop of anesthetic and then a fluid called fluorescein in your eyes. Next, he or she will gently place a device called a tonometer on your cornea. This process only lasts a couple of seconds, and with the aesthetic, you won’t even feel it!

The final test during your eye exam is called a Dilated Fundus. During which, your optometrist will dilate your eyes using special drops. This will allow them to look into your eyes using a larger window and check for disease. Afterward, your eyes will remain dilated for about an hour. Because your eyes are extra sensitive at this time, make sure you wear sunglasses until the drops wear off. If you don’t have a pair, your doctor will provide you with some kind of eye protection.