Each year many people lose vision due to progressive diseases or conditions of the eye. Often there are no symptoms indicating something is wrong, or vision loss occurs so gradually that it is not readily noticeable to a patient.
Consequently, it is important to regularly schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an experienced, knowledgeable ophthalmologist. In general, periodic eye exams are suggested to keep your eyes healthy. However, if you have a family history of eye problems; are African-American; have diabetes; or have a personal history of eye injury that required medical or surgical care, you may need to see your eye doctor more frequently.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following eye exam schedules:
A pediatrician, family physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant should examine the newborn’s eyes for general health in the nursery.
By 6 months of age, all infants should be screened for ocular health by a healthcare professional (ophthalmologist, primary care provider, family physician, pediatrician or other health care professionals) or a trained screener. Infants should receive a comprehensive eye evaluation whenever questions arise about their eye health. No infant is too young for an eye examination.
Before Age 5
Since it is possible for a child to have a serious vision problem without being aware of it, he or she should have their eyes screened at age 3 and again at age 5 by an eye care professional, who will look for conditions such as:
• Strabismus (crossed eyes)
• Amblyopia (lazy eye)
• Ptosis (dropping of the upper eyelid)
• Refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism)
Puberty to Age 39
Most young people have healthy eyes, but still need to take care of their vision by wearing protective eyewear when working in dangerous areas; playing sports; doing woodworking or yard work; working with chemicals; or taking part in other activities that could cause eye injury. Have a complete eye exam at least once between the ages of 20 and 29 and at least twice between the ages of 30 and 39.
You should also be aware of symptoms that could indicate a problem. See an eye doctor promptly if you experience any eye problems such as:
• Visual changes or pain
• Flashes of light
• Seeing spots or ghost-like images
• Dark spot appears in vision
• Lines and edges appear distorted or wavy
• Dry eyes with itching and burning
Ages 40 to 64
Even the young adult and middle-age groups can be affected by eye problems, so preventive measures should be taken to protect eyes from injury and detect disease early. Schedule a comprehensive eye evaluation with your eye doctor every two to four years.
65 and Older
Seniors 65 and older should have comprehensive eye evaluations by their eye doctor every year or two to assess eye health and diagnose any eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration.
A comprehensive eye exam may last up to an hour, depending on the tests required to examine your eyes. These exams may act as the entry point to more advanced sub-specialty care for patients needing additional medical or surgical services.
Common Vision Tests
• Visual Acuity Test: One of the primary tests in any comprehensive eye exam, this test will measure how much you can see using an eye chart.
• Retinoscopy: This test will determine your approximate eyeglass prescription. Your doctor will be able to get dose to your prescription by judging how light reflects from your eye while flipping lenses in front of your eye.
• Refraction: This determines your exact eyeglass prescription using an instrument known as a phoropter. During this test, your doctor will show you a series of lens choices and ask you which lenses look clearer. This will continue until your doctor narrows down the lens power and reaches your true prescription.
• Pupil Dilation: Your doctor may need to enlarge your pupil using eye drops in order to see more of the internal structures of your eyes.
• Visual Field Test: This test checks for blind spots in your peripheral vision.
• Color Blindness Test: Besides just checking for hereditary color blindness, this test can also determine other issues that could be causing color blindness.
• Cover Test: This test can indicate a binocular vision problem that causes eye strain or amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye.”
• Auto refractors and Aberrometers: These automatically determine your eyeglass prescription by accurately focusing light on your retina to determine the lens power.
• Slit-lamp Examination: The slit lamp, or biomicroscope, gives your doctor a highly magnified view of the internal structures of your eye to determine eye health and look for signs of infection.
• Glaucoma Test: Typically, your doctor will perform a “puff-of-air” test (non-contact tonometry, NCT), that literally puffs a tiny bit of air at your eye to see how the eye resists the air. This will allow the machine to calculate your intraocular pressure, which helps determine if you are at risk of developing glaucoma.
If anything abnormal is discovered during the comprehensive eye exam, the ophthalmologist can recommend the treatment that is best for your condition. As with any other health problem, the earlier an eye problem Is detected the better the treatment results can be and the less likely the problem will end in vision loss. If you have any concerns about your vision and eye health, our friendly staff and knowledgeable care team is here to answer any questions you might have.
2841 Lexington Ave., Ashland, KY