4 Key Elements of a Comprehensive Eye Exam

According to the American Optometric Association, most healthy adults should undergo comprehensive eye and vision testing every other year, with seniors and individuals at risk for vision problems scheduling annual exams instead. These evaluations allow eye doctors to catch and treat problems before they endanger your eyesight.

Comprehensive eye exams go beyond simple vision checks. If you’ve never had a comprehensive eye exam or never quite understood what it involves, you can feel more confident and comfortable with the process by learning about its key components. Take a look at four key elements of a typical comprehensive eye exam.

1. Optometrist Consultation

Your optometrist will want to gain an understanding of your current health and wellness as part of the comprehensive eye exam. You’ll answer questions about your medical history, your family’s history or eye issues or general health problems, and any medications you currently take for such issues.

This part of the exam also gives you an opportunity to tell your optometrist about any eye or vision problems or symptoms you may have noticed recently. The optometrist can use this information to focus on finding any diseases or disorders that might correspond to your complaints or concerns.

2. Eye Health and Functional Evaluations

Today’s eye doctors use a variety of devices and techniques to check the eyes’ health and function. One example, intraocular pressure testing, can help reveal possible glaucoma, an optic nerve problem because of excessive fluid pressure in the eye. A machine delivers a puff of air to the eye and measures the eye’s resistance.

Other tests measure how precisely the eyes track moving objects. Your optometrist might ask you to follow a finger’s horizontal and vertical motions to observe this function. You may also get your pupils dilated so the optometrist can examine the retinas deep within the eyes for signs or damage or disease.

3. Visual Acuity Testing

If you’ve ever read letters off an eye chart, you already know something about visual acuity testing. The letters grow progressively smaller toward the bottom of the chart. If you can’t read some of them through a viewing device called a phoropter, the optometrist will try different corrective lens combinations until you can see clearly.

Keratometry shows how incoming light passes through the cornea to the back of the eye. In this type of test, you look into a measuring device while the optometrist reads the measurements it makes. Abnormal curves or pits in the cornea may indicate that you have astigmatism, a condition that can cause blurred vision.

Other tests can reveal even more potential problems that might call for treatment. For instance, your optometrist can check your peripheral vision for signs of glaucoma. In another evaluation called a cover test, the optometrist checks the vision in each eye with the other eye covered to check your depth perception.

4. Treatment Recommendations

Once you’ve undergone these various eye and vision tests, your optometrist can diagnose any issues and recommend the proper course of treatment. Medications can often control diseases such as glaucoma. If an underlying disorder such as diabetes threatens your eyes, you may also need care from your primary physician.

Refractive problems such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness usually respond well to corrective lenses. Your optometrist can use the data from your visual acuity tests to prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses. You can also request a referral to an eye surgeon for a permanent vision correction procedure.

If you’ve gone too long without a comprehensive eye exam or you need to schedule one for the first time, turn to San Diego Eye Professionals. Our experienced optometry team can perform the necessary tests, recommend treatment strategies for eye diseases, and prescribe corrective lenses as needed. Contact us today.

a woman having her eyes examined by an eye doctor